Not all anti–smoking ads are created equal. Brian Flay and colleagues found that some, like this one telling parents to "Talk. They’ll Listen," increased the likelihood that teens would smoke.
It’s not often that researchers see their results have an immediate impact on the marketplace. But that’s what happened to OSU Public Health Professor Brian Flay last spring.
In December 2006, he and colleagues published the results of a study on teen smoking and advertising. Their conclusion: anti–smoking ads sponsored by the tobacco industry actually increased the chances that teens would smoke. Four months later, Philip Morris told the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) that it would no longer run its "Talk They’ll Listen" advertising. NAAG cited the study as key to the pressure that was put on the company.
Published in the American Journal of Public Health, the study received national media attention and gave anti–smoking groups new ammunition against tobacco companies. It was funded by the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Flay also participates on an Institute of Medicine (part of the National Academy of Sciences) committee that recently drafted a comprehensive report on tobacco control that included prevention recommendations.