Forget the “blood and gore”: An alternative message strategy to help adolescents avoid cigarette smoking

Julian de Meyrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Tobacco smoking will kill literally millions of people annually around the world. Despite this fact, prevalence among young people remains unacceptably high. Because tobacco is so addictive, the typical adolescent smoker can look forward to a lifetime addiction, reduced quality of life and premature death. A long-term solution to this problem must include action to postpone or inhibit adolescents from taking up smoking. Advertising research indicates that a message is more effective if the target audience experiences a feeling of involvement in it. It must also communicate new, important information that engages the audience at a cognitive and affective level and is readily verifiable against the audience's own experience. It follows that the threat of addiction should be used as the key message in a campaign to reduce the incidence of adolescent cigarette smoking. This threat is potentially salient for adolescents. It is concrete and immediate, not merely a promise of increased statistical probabilities 30 or more years into the future. It is also readily verifiable from the adolescent's own experience. It may also be worth focusing on other consequent losses that flow from the addiction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-108
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2001


  • Health education
  • Marketing communications
  • Smoking


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