Summary: Smoking in Movies Leads to Smoking Among Adolescents

Viewing smoking in movies strongly predicts whether or not adolescents initiate smoking, and the effect increases significantly with greater exposure. Adolescents who view the most smoking in movies are almost three times more likely to initiate smoking than those with the least amount of exposure.

  • According to an article written in The Lancet, a recent study was conducted on 3,547 adolescents (aged 10-14 years) who reported in a baseline survey that they had never previously tried smoking. The intention of the study was to assess exposure to smoking shown in movies. The results of the study suggest that viewing smoking in movies strongly predicts whether or not adolescents initiate smoking, and the effect increases significantly with greater exposure. Adolescents who viewed the most smoking in movies were almost three times more likely to initiate smoking than those with the least amount of exposure. The data also suggests that children with non-smoking parents are especially susceptible to the effect of movie smoking exposure. Children with parents who smoke might have a more realistic view of smoking, so they are less likely to be influenced by the glamorous portrayal of smoking in the movies. However, another explanation is that children with parents who smoke are already at a higher risk for smoking initiation, so their risk is less likely to be raised by other social influences. Researchers of this study noted that further research is needed to assess the effect of exposure to smoking in movies on long-term smoking behavior.1

1Effect of Viewing Smoking in Movies on Adolescent Smoking Initiation: A Cohort Study, The Lancet, Vol. 362, July 26, 2003, pp. 281-285.

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