BackgroundTobacco industry cigarette advertising is associated with increased adolescent smoking, while counter tobacco advertising is associated with reduced smoking. As these campaigns compete for influence, there is a need to understand their inter-relationship on youth smoking.MethodsThis study reports data from a national population of families (n=1036) with an oldest child aged 10–13 years, identified by random digit dialling. Parent and child dyads completed baseline questionnaires in 2003. Adolescents were resurveyed in 2007–2008 (response rate 74%). Adjusted logistic regression explores associations between receptivity to cigarette and tobacco control advertising and adolescent smoking initiation.ResultsIn 2007–2008, 57.9% of adolescents reported a favourite tobacco control advertisement and 43.3% reported being receptive to cigarette advertisements. Thirty per cent reported receptivity to cigarette and tobacco control advertisements. Among those receptive to cigarette advertising, having a favourite anti-smoking advertisement had a borderline significant association with a 30% lower smoking rate. Anti-industry tobacco control messages were three times more likely to be favourites of those who were receptive to cigarette advertising than other tobacco control advertising.ConclusionsReceptivity to tobacco control advertising appeared to ameliorate the promotion of initiation from cigarette advertising. Anti-industry advertising appears to be the most effective counter for tobacco control and should be considered for wider use. A larger longitudinal study is needed to confirm these findings.