Do tobacco countermarketing campaigns increase adolescent under-reporting of smoking?

Peter A. Messeri, Jane A. Allen, Paul D. Mowery, Cheryl G. Healton, M. Lyndon Haviland, Julia M. Gable, Susan D. Pedrazzani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study assesses whether a national anti-tobacco campaign for youth could create a social context that would elevate social desirability response bias on surveys, as measured by an increase in under-reporting of smoking. This could give rise to data that falsely suggest a campaign-induced decline in youth smoking, or it could exaggerate campaign effects. Data were obtained from a national sample of 5511 students from 48 high schools that were matched to schools sampled for the 2002 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS). Self-reported smoking was compared with biochemical indicators of smoking, measured using saliva cotinine. The rate of under-reporting detected was 1.3%. Level of truth® exposure was not related to under-reporting. This study suggests that for high school students, anti-tobacco campaigns are not an important cause of social desirability responses on surveys, and that in general under-reporting smoking is not a major source of error in school-based surveys.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1532-1536
Number of pages5
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2007


  • Biochemical validation
  • Cotinine
  • Countermarketing
  • Smoking
  • Social desirability bias
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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