Which "Corrective Statements" are Most Effective in Motivating Smokers to Quit?

In anticipation of receiving $10 billion to administer a national smoking cessation program pursuant to a court-approved settlement with tobacco companies, officials at the CDC Foundation began to develop a business plan. The CDC Foundation is a nonprofit organization that links private sector partners with scientists at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to achieve common goals.

Subsequently, the court did not require the establishment of a tobacco-cessation program, but did require tobacco companies to disseminate "corrective statements" to correct past inaccurate and misleading information about tobacco use they had promulgated over the years.

The CDC Foundation therefore surveyed smokers to ascertain their responses to nine proposed corrective statements submitted by three parties to the lawsuit: the U.S. Department of Justice, tobacco companies and public health interveners such as national tobacco-control organizations.

Key Findings

  • Respondent smokers scored the statements higher on their believability and credibility than on their value in providing motivation to quit smoking or adding new information regarding tobacco use.

  • Respondents gave higher ratings, in general, to the tobacco companies' statements than to statements from the Department of Justice or the public health interveners.

  • Statements addressing the lack of benefits from smoking light and low-tar cigarettes were most likely to motivate smokers to quit smoking.