Promoting media literacy education

Teens, Tobacco & Media

Austin, Pinkleton, Cohen and team have devoted considerable effort to evaluating the tobacco prevention program, Teens, Tobacco & Media Program, a program made possible with funding from the American Legacy Foundation with support from the Washington State Department of Health. Among their findings for this program were the following:

For those who had never smoked a cigarette, the data indicated that the Teens, Tobacco & Media Program had the following results:

  1. Increased their awareness of the tactics and techniques used by tobacco marketers
  2. Increased their motivation to resist the marketersí messages
  3. Gained confidence in their ability to make a difference
  4. Expressed increased intention to take action against tobacco use
  5. Followed through by engaging in more discussion with peers and had more frequent discussion of tobacco cessation with their friends

For those who had tried cigarette smoking, the data indicated that these students demonstrated:

  1. Increased understanding of the potential persuasive effects of advertising
  2. Less likelihood than control group members to believe that it is normal for teenagers to use tobacco
  3. Less likelihood than control group to feel susceptible to peer influence (i.e. increased their belief that they could resist peer influence to use tobacco)
  4. More likelihood to discuss tobacco cessation with their friends after participating in the lessons and more likelihood to believe that they could dissuade their peers from using tobacco
  5. Greater belief than the control group that they could in fact make a difference in tobacco use.
  6. Increased intention to take action against tobacco use


The programís findings have been the subject of several government reports, conference presentations and publications including the following:
  • Statewide evaluation of the effectiveness of media literacy to prevent tobacco use among adolescents. Health Communication. (2007); 21(1), 23-34. (

  • Evaluation of an American Legacy Foundation/Washington State Department of Health media literacy pilot study. Health Communication. (2005); 18:75-95. (

  • Evaluation of American Legacy Foundation/Washington State Department of Health Media Literacy Pilot Study. (2002). Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Annual National Conference, Communication Theory and Methodology Division, Miami. Top 3 Paper Award.

For further information about other Teens, Tobacco & Media publications, please contact Marilyn Cohen (, Bruce Pinkleton ( or Erica Austin (