Examining Advertisement Literacy of Adolescence Towards Cigarette and E-Cigarette

By on April 26, 2022. Posted in .

Hamzah Pratama Megantara, Eldesta Nisa Nabila, Anshorulloh Abd Fath, Rabid Yahya Putradasa, Bernie Endyarni Medise, Devi Nurhaliza Atjo, Diandra Amandita D, Dina Clarisa.

Faculty of Medicine, Universitas Indonesia



Adolescence is classified as a vulnerable age group to be exposed to cigarette and e-cigarette companies as they are targeted as one of the main consumers. Furthermore, adolescence tends to desire a high status and respect no less than an adult. Advertisement literacy is a relatively novel concept proposed by Rosendall et al (2011). It aims to raise people’s awareness, in this case, the teenagers, regarding the ability to think critically and sceptically about cigarette and vape advertisements. The desired result of well-constructed advertisement literacy is to suppress the influence of advertisements (especially negative advertisements such as smoke and vapour) on teenagers to buy the products. Moreover, according to Bradford Hill’s etiological causal links, tobacco and vape advertisement fulfil all 5 Hills’s criteria to be the aetiology rather than risk factor of smoking and vaping. Hence, a multi-dimensional concept of advertisement literacy is needed to reach out to the adolescence in constructing the awareness of advertisement literacy towards cigarette and e-cigarette companies. Our research provides baseline data on advertisement literacy among adolescence, particularly in terms of cigarette and e-cigarette advertisements. 


We assessed the advertisement literacy among 270 Indonesian high school students through a questionnaire that has been checked its sensitivity and specificity through the Cronbach alpha test. Initially, we displayed one cigarette advertisement and one vape advertisement to the students. The cigarette advertisement was filled with cinematic experiences of a teenager who had fallen multiple times throughout his life. Then, the encouraging voice was expelled as you should rise and show your true self, which was followed by the name of the cigarette product (Bahasa: Bangkit dan Tunjukkan Siapa Dirimu). Then, the vape advertisement showed many tricks made from the vapour along with a catchy song. Afterwards, we asked 5 questions related to their response and attitude which consists of whether or not they think the advertisement is enticing, whether or not the advertisement raises their curiosity and to buy the products, whether or not the advertisement makes them angry and unpleasant, whether or not a cigarette and vape company should be allowed to sell their product to the adolescents, and whether or not social media influencers should be free to promote and endorse cigarette and vape products. Then, we sum and stratify the total score of 5 questions into a low score (inadequate advertisement literacy), an intermediate score, and a high score (adequate advertisement literacy). Then, a 5-week long interventional program on smoking and vaping prevention was held in 4 schools across Lampung, South Jakarta and East Jakarta. We allocate of total 532 participants into the intervention and control groups. The control group were given a 45 minutes-long counselling on smoking and vaping prevention. 


Accumulatively, about 15.6% of students have an inadequacy in advertisement literacy in a vape while the numbers are even higher in cigarettes reaching 20.4%. Moreover, there are 55.3% and 57.7% of the participants feel comfortable and undisturbed by cigarettes and vapour after watching the advertisements, respectively. Sadly, almost half of the students (48.6%) find the advertisements to be enticing. To add it up, 14.1% of the students grow curiosity and interest in the products after seeing the advertisements. Lastly, about 10% of participants feel that it is acceptable to promote and endorse cigarettes and vape to adolescents.


From our study, many participants have not constructed an ideal advertisement literacy and attitude towards cigarette and vape products, ironically. This discourse uncovers the importance and urgency of raising advertisement literacy among adolescents, particularly high school students to defend them from the vicious influence of cigarette and vape products. After all, our program was only based on the effect of one advertisement for each (cigarette and e-cigarette) while there are broad types of cigarette and vape advertisements catering for different tastes and interests of teenagers. To sum up, advertisement literacy in adolescents is pivotal in protecting them from malicious effects possessed by cigarette and electronic cigarette advertisements.

Key Words

Advertisement literacy, Cigarette, e-Cigarette, Vapour, Adolescent, High school student.

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