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Antismoking television advertising and socioeconomic variations in calls to Quitline


Objective: To assess the socioeconomic variations in call rates to the Quitline (Victoria, Australia) and in the impact of anti-tobacco television advertising on call rates.

Design: The outcome measure was the number of calls to the Quitline in Victoria for each week for each socioeconomic group for the period January 2001 to March 2004. Socioeconomic status (SES) was derived from the caller’s postcode using the Index of Socioeconomic Disadvantage provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The exposure measure was weekly Target Audience Rating Points (TARPs, a standard measure of television advertising weight) for anti-tobacco advertising broadcast in Victoria over the same period. Negative binomial regression was used to examine the interaction of SES and TARPs in their effect on the number of Quitline calls.

Results: SES and call rates were positively associated. Adjusted call rate was 57% (95% CI 45% to 69%) higher in the highest than the lowest SES quintile. SES differences in call rates were stable over time. In the study period, the effect of the presence or increasing levels of antismoking TARPs on call rates did not vary across categories of SES.

Conclusions: In the study period, different SES groups had a similar level of responsiveness to antismoking television advertisements, at least as measured by the rate of calls to the Quitline. However, the present media campaigns are not likely to diminish SES differences in call rates, and more needs to be done to encourage disadvantaged groups to call the Quitline.

  • NRT, nicotine replacement therapy
  • NTC, National Tobacco Campaign
  • SES, socioeconomic status
  • TARP, Target Audience Rating Point

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