US researchers believe anti-smoking ads aimed at young people could be hitting their targets.

A study to be published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine has found the 12-17 age group tends to smoke less and have more awareness about risks where anti-tobacco campaigns are more ubiquitous.

The results have led to a call by University of Illinois at Chicago researchers, who carried out the study, for US states not to trim ad campaign budgets.

Says lead author Sherry Emery: "These findings lead us to believe that state-sponsored anti-tobacco ads have played an important role in reducing youth smoking, and that cutting support for these ads, as so many states recently have, is a step in the wrong direction."

The research was funded by the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), when major tobacco manufacturers paid $13.5 billion (€11.32bn; £7.68bn) to 45 states during 1999 and 2000, saw a boom in anti-smoking campaigns and stop-smoking programs. But in recent years US states have diverted these dollars to other, more pressing, areas of their budgets.

Data sourced from Adweek (USA); additional content by WARC staff