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Materials Development Tip #5: Tobacco Youth Prevention and Key Information and Tips to Keep in Mind

Posted on March 30, 2012

In a recent publication by the Surgeon General, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2012) reported that nearly all tobacco use begins somewhere during the teenage years and young adulthood. In fact, the report estimates that nearly 4,000 individuals under the age of 18 start smoking every day (1). The impact of starting at such an early age is especially critical. Adolescents are actually more sensitive to nicotine; thus, they develop a greater addiction to nicotine than adults (2). Consequently, one-third of adolescents will die prematurely from tobacco use (3). There had been recent declines in cigarette smoking and smokeless tobacco use in youths, but such rates are slowing down and stalling (2). Because of this realization and the long-term effects of youth tobacco use, the key objective of any tobacco prevention campaign should be to prevent youth and young adults from using tobacco products.

Certainly, tobacco companies utilize effective youth sales tactics to get young people to use their tobacco products. From the statistics and conclusions made in the Surgeon General report, there is no doubt that these advertising strategies work. These companies use appealing product designs, peer influences, images, and other advertisement strategies to portray tobacco as a positive social norm. But anti-tobacco campaigns can also speak to youth, and speak to them in ways that make an anti-tobacco lifestyle more appealing. Here are some tips to keep in mind in when developing educational materials about youth tobacco prevention:

  1. Know your audience.
    • 55% of teens today use social networking sites such as Facebook (4). Mass media campaigns, which include videos, commercials, and Facebook pages, can be passed around in the internet community.
    • Hone in on current gender distinctions between males and females, and take note of dynamics within a gender group (5).
    • Try not to make materials sound preachy, condescending, or too academic.
  2. Be tactical with how you present information in a material.
    • Keep main points 3 to 5 points long (6).
    • Begin and end with the most important and impressive facts (7).
    • Reviewing and reinforcing key facts helps to get the message across clearly (8).
    • Use pictures that grab attention (11).
  3. Let the health message of tobacco use be the main feature of the material.
    • Highlight staggering statistics and research about the harmful impact of tobacco use.
    • Follow warnings with prevention steps and solutions (10).
  4. Field Test your materials.
    • Watch our Field Testing Webisodes series. There are five webisodes that are each about 10-20 minutes in length. Topics include: Setting up pretests, readability testing and suitability assessment of materials, focus groups, and intercept and individual interviews.
    • You can also find more tips and resources by visiting the Learn How section, Step 8: Testing Your Materials.
    • Interview and consult with members of the target population to see if your materials are appealing and appropriate.
    • This is useful in making sure ethnic identifiers are appropriate and material information is culturally relevant (9).

    References
    1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2012.
    2 Surgeon General. “Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults Fact Sheet.” 2012. http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/preventing-youth-tobacco-use/factsheet.html.
    3 Surgeon General. “Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults Fact Sheet.” 2012. http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/preventing-youth-tobacco-use/factsheet.html.
    4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Audience Insights: Communicating to Teens (Aged 12-17).” 2009. http://www.cdc.gov/healthcommunication/Audience/AudienceInsight_teens.pdf.
    5 Henry, Amy. “Five Myths About the Youth Market: Busted.” Marketing Profs, March 4, 2011. http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2011/4564/five-myths-about-the-youth-market-busted.
    6 Susan G. Komen for the Cure. “Hispanics/Latinas Developing Effective Cancer Education Print Materials.” January 2007. https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:STI0gLkG0VwJ:ww5.komen.org/uploadedfiles/Content_Binaries/Hispanic.pdf+&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESifHM6EuQ9r4KRtYDa8t84OO4QGW17u1LEajHi1Uxs6V14Zn7Ix7W9zyzoHxbdDOuvZeiExXHVxTpHxXCAdXPBUi2yrMFZTciSIdEIJZ12N46lLPNLUF-XOO3uASsSaevC7LFDO&sig=AHIEtbSW9OoQQNVmcGn1G9pSvDExkwEEfw&pli=1.
    7 Susan G. Komen for the Cure. “Hispanics/Latinas Developing Effective Cancer Education Print Materials.” January 2007. https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:STI0gLkG0VwJ:ww5.komen.org/uploadedfiles/Content_Binaries/Hispanic.pdf+&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESifHM6EuQ9r4KRtYDa8t84OO4QGW17u1LEajHi1Uxs6V14Zn7Ix7W9zyzoHxbdDOuvZeiExXHVxTpHxXCAdXPBUi2yrMFZTciSIdEIJZ12N46lLPNLUF-XOO3uASsSaevC7LFDO&sig=AHIEtbSW9OoQQNVmcGn1G9pSvDExkwEEfw&pli=1.
    8 Susan G. Komen for the Cure. “Hispanics/Latinas Developing Effective Cancer Education Print Materials.” January 2007. https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:STI0gLkG0VwJ:ww5.komen.org/uploadedfiles/Content_Binaries/Hispanic.pdf+&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESifHM6EuQ9r4KRtYDa8t84OO4QGW17u1LEajHi1Uxs6V14Zn7Ix7W9zyzoHxbdDOuvZeiExXHVxTpHxXCAdXPBUi2yrMFZTciSIdEIJZ12N46lLPNLUF-XOO3uASsSaevC7LFDO&sig=AHIEtbSW9OoQQNVmcGn1G9pSvDExkwEEfw&pli=1.
    9 Susan G. Komen for the Cure. “Hispanics/Latinas Developing Effective Cancer Education Print Materials.” January 2007. https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:STI0gLkG0VwJ:ww5.komen.org/uploadedfiles/Content_Binaries/Hispanic.pdf+&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESifHM6EuQ9r4KRtYDa8t84OO4QGW17u1LEajHi1Uxs6V14Zn7Ix7W9zyzoHxbdDOuvZeiExXHVxTpHxXCAdXPBUi2yrMFZTciSIdEIJZ12N46lLPNLUF-XOO3uASsSaevC7LFDO&sig=AHIEtbSW9OoQQNVmcGn1G9pSvDExkwEEfw&pli=1.
    10 Henry, Amy. “Five Myths About the Youth Market: Busted.” Marketing Profs, March 4, 2011. http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2011/4564/five-myths-about-the-youth-market-busted.
    11 World Health Organization. “How to make warnings most effective.” 2009. https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:-Acm96BqVRMJ:www.who.int/entity/tobacco/resources/publications/wntd/2009/materials/wntd_2009_how_to_make_warning_most_effective.pdf+&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESikhkafWY8IC8g4mKeZLcEcYTbCzvYHBUrYOoHDlxCPpo1qbMnqR_K1iyo17qUX6qQFzzQRpZYVHqH8H5LQ-qzsz0XcQnOZfXca3lQcpMW6r-m51rbLarZrq6zWaFUrZZocXKcQ&sig=AHIEtbTtWRSxFLnUm7_3a0q4i7egSG366A.

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