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Better-Educated Smokers More Likely to Quit After Seeing Ads

Study finds 65% with college degree made attempt, but economic status also plays role

THURSDAY, April 3 (HealthDay News) -- TV ads that promote quitting smoking are more likely to have an impact on better-educated smokers, while warnings about the dangers of secondhand smoke have a similar effect on people of all educational levels, says a University of Wisconsin study.

In 2002 and 2003, researchers surveyed 452 adult smokers of different socioeconomic and educational levels about their recall of quitting smoking and secondhand smoke ad campaigns. A year later, the researchers checked on the respondents' smoking status.

Of those who recalled seeing the ads, about 65 percent of college-educated participants tried to quit in the following year, compared with 30 percent of those with a high school education or less, the study found.

However, there was no statistically significant difference between the groups in abstinence from smoking after one year or in their response to messages about secondhand smoke. The findings are published in the May issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

"Some media campaign messages appear less effective in promoting quit attempts among less-education populations," wrote lead researcher Jeff Niederdeppe, a post-doctoral fellow, and colleagues.

Niederdeppe noted that about 7 percent of Americans with graduate degrees are smokers, compared to 46 percent of those with a GED.

Income may be a major factor when it comes to quitting smoking, he suggested.

"Lower socioeconomic-status smokers may be more addicted and work in places where smoking is less restricted. They also have less access to abstinence aids such as medications and counseling," so seeing an anti-smoking ad may not be an effective motivator in itself.

"We are not doing a good enough job of providing lower socioeconomic smokers with resources to help them quit," Niederdeppe said.

More information

The American Cancer Society offers a guide to quitting smoking.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: University of Wisconsin, news release, April 1, 2008

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