Do you smoke? Or do you know someone who smokes?

I personally have seen so many friends fall into the nicotine trap and just cannot seem to get out of it.
Or perhaps, they do not want to get out of it?

Either way, I’m sure every single one of them have seen an anti-smoking poster, advert, or video. I mean, even the cigarette boxes have ghastly images on them! So, do you think all these methods of discouraging smoking are actually working?


   (Credits: Thailand Health Promotion Institute)

This article by Park, Kim and Hove talks about a study that was done recently in 2010. It examines 934 anti-smoking video clips on YouTube for these characteristics:

a) Message Sensation Value (MSV) – structural and content features, and sensory, affective and arousal ‘responses’ to message features. (i.e. High MSV messages may lead to persuasion.)

b) Three types of message appeal – threat, social and humour.

The findings show that – 
(1) Anti-smoking messages are prevalent on YouTube,
(2) MSV levels of online anti-smoking videos are relatively low compared to that of televised anti-smoking messages,
(3) Threat appeals are the videos’ predominant message strategy,
(4) Message characteristics (persuasiveness and impact of message) are related to viewer reach and viewer preference.

YouTube is especially popular among youth and thus the business world sees it as an ideal platform for advertising and marketing to reach that target audience and influence their behavior. YouTube also provides data on number of viewers, number of comments and viewer ratings. This can be considered an interactive mechanism that is exclusive to video-sharing Web-sites – traditional media channels such as television and print do not have such an advantage.

However, surprisingly, the number of prosmoking videos outnumbered anti-smoking videos on YouTube. This probably reflects how much control we have over what is being posted up and who watches what video – not very much control at all. Along with social media like Facebook and Twitter now, videos could go viral very easily; it’s actually quite scary.  

Threat appeals typically showed audiences the health dangers, risks and consequences of smoking such as mouth cancer, rotten lungs, dying patients. Humour should be used discretely or otherwise, not used at all as it nullifies the intended intensity and severity of the key message.

Here, watch this short anti-smoking advertisement that the Thais have come up with. Do you think that it is effective? Do you think there are any ethical issues with using children such videos?


Reference: Park, HAN.-J., Kim, K., & Hove, T. (2010). Content analysis of anti smoking videos on YouTube: message sensation value, message appeals, and their relationship with viewer responses. Heath Education Research, 25(6), 1085-1099.

Do you smoke? O…

By Jessica Ho

4 comments on “Do you smoke? O…

  1. I think the video is quite effective. Especially the facial expressions of the smokers after reading the brochure are very interesting. And the question aroused in the video is quite profound.
    But one question has to be concerned, if someone want to do an activity like that in reality, “what if they give the light?” That’s the ethical risk of this video, and it’s quite hard to choose, because the conflict between children and adult smokers is the whole point of this video.
    We all know that conflict makes a good story. I think for anti-smoke Youtube clips, they first have to be well-made as a movie in order to stand out from massive competitors, and the effectiveness of the message is the second. Using threat and humor can definitely improve the artistic quality, but hard to promote the science message, and that’s what we should work on.
    Nice post!

  2. Thanks Axl for your comment! I feel that the video is quite effective too, however, perhaps this is only truly effective to viewers who like kids/children, or who have children. I think that the ethical issue that came with this video was on purpose as it spurs a thought process in every viewer – if that was me, would i give the child a light? I totally agree that a well-made movie is definitely going to stand out from the huge numbers on the internet, and having a simple and accurate message is a plus point. Having said that, I think the main message of the video was really quite clear – Smoking harms everyone. Why is it okay for adults to smoke but not children? Do I practise what I preach?

  3. I love this video! It’s great that they evaluated it to see how well it worked. I wonder how many people they approached to get a 40% increase in calls? Any chance they published the research?

  4. Thanks for your comment Miriam! Unfortunately, I didn’t seem to be able to find any research or reports published on the video. But I had a look at the Thai Health Promotion website and found a few interesting things, e.g. the strategy they want to use:
    (Also, the video was mentioned in

    There’s another interesting post I chanced upon, and I’m not quite sure if I agree with it. Apparently, “in December 2012, Australia is set to become the first country in the world to require that all cigarette packs be sold in plain standardised packaging.” Here, have a read:

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