International Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 667–676 | Cite as

Reported Exposures to Anti-smoking Messages and Their Impact on Chinese Smoker's Subsequent Quit Attempts

  • Lin Li
  • Ron Borland
  • Hua-Hie Yong
  • Geoffrey T. Fong
  • Yuan Jiang
  • Qiang Li
  • David Hammond
  • Anne C.K. Quah



It is important to monitor whether anti-smoking messages (if any) are noticed by the public in China and whether they have any impact on smokers’ quitting behaviours over time


This study aimed to examine Chinese smokers' exposure to anti-smoking messages in a range of channels and to determine if exposure was associated with subsequent quit attempts.


A prospective cohort design was employed. Participants were 6,509 adult smokers who completed at least one of the first three waves (2006–2009) of the International Tobacco Control (ITC) China Survey sampled from six Chinese cities. The main measures were reported exposure to anti-smoking messages in a range of channels and smokers' subsequent quit attempts. Generalized Estimating Equations (GEE) modelling was used to combine respondents from all three waves while accounting for inherent within-person correlation.


The overall exposure levels to anti-smoking messages were low and varied between cities and from one channel to another. Television was the medium with the greatest overall exposure (over 50 % in almost all the cities across all the waves). After controlling for a range of covariates, higher level of combined exposure were positively related to higher subsequent quit attempts (adjusted odds ratio = 1.03, 95 % CI 1.02 ~ 1.05, p < .001); among the individual channels, exposures in newspapers and on posters were significant in their own right.


The findings suggest that anti-smoking warning messages have the potential to stimulate Chinese smokers to make quit attempts, but they also indicate that the levels and strength of warning messages in China need to be increased. China should consider adopting proven international practices, including mandating pictorial health warnings on cigarette packages, adopting prominent point-of-sale warnings, and carrying out strong and ongoing mass media campaigns.


Health warnings Smoking cessation Longitudinal research China 



The authors would like to thank other members of the ITC China team for their support.

Conflict of interest



This work was supported by the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health of the United States [grant numbers P50 CA111236, and R01 CA100362], Robert Wood Johnson Foundation [045734], Canadian Institutes of Health Research [57897 and 79551], National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia [265903 and 450110], Cancer Research UK [C312/A3726], and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The funding sources had no role in the study design, in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data, in the writing of the manuscript, nor in the decision to submit the manuscript for publication.


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Copyright information

© International Society of Behavioral Medicine 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lin Li
    • 1
  • Ron Borland
    • 1
  • Hua-Hie Yong
    • 1
  • Geoffrey T. Fong
    • 2
    • 3
  • Yuan Jiang
    • 4
  • Qiang Li
    • 2
    • 4
  • David Hammond
    • 5
  • Anne C.K. Quah
    • 2
  1. 1.Research DivisionCancer Council VictoriaMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  3. 3.Ontario Institute for Cancer ResearchTorontoCanada
  4. 4.Tobacco Control OfficeChinese Center for Disease Control and PreventionBeijingChina
  5. 5.School of Public Health and Health SystemsUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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