Movies Gravely Influence Adolescents in Smoking Habits

Be cool and smoke: Such movie
heros contribute to kid's smoking
habits; ©

The study was conducted by researchers from Dartmouth Medical School (DMS) and Norris Cotton Cancer Center (NCCC). “We found that as the amount of exposure to smoking in movies increased, the rate of smoking also increased.” said lead author Dr. James Sargent, professor of paediatrics at DMS and director of the Cancer Control Research Program at NCCC. “Part of the reason that exposure to movie smoking has such a considerable impact on adolescent smoking is because it is a very strong social influence on kids ages 10-14,” he said. “Because movie exposure to smoking is so pervasive, its impact on this age group outweighs whether peers or parents smoke or whether the child is involved other activities, like sports.”

In the study, 6,522 US adolescents aged 10-14 were asked to identify films they had seen from a list of 50 randomly selected titles out of a database of films released in the U.S. from 1998 – 2000. Researchers found examples of movie smoking in 74 percent of the 532 movies in the database. Based on the movies each participant had seen and the amount of smoking in each movie, the adolescents were split into four levels of exposure to movie smoking.

Researchers then examined risk for adolescent smoking, comparing adolescents in the higher movie smoking categories with the lowest category and controlling factors known to be linked with adolescent smoking, like peer and parent smoking. Even after considering all other factors known to influence the smoking risk, DMS researchers found that adolescents with the highest exposure to movie smoking were 2.6 times more likely to take up smoking compared to those with the lowest exposure. All else being equal, the researchers found that of 100 adolescents that tried smoking, 38 did so because of their exposure to smoking in movies.; Source: Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center