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Summary: Exposure to Smoking in Movies Predicts Risk of Becoming an Established Smoker

Exposure to smoking in movies by adolescents predicts a risk of becoming an established smoker, an outcome linked with adult dependent smoking and its associated morbidity and mortality.

  • In an article published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, the results from a national longitudinal study of adolescent health were reported. According to the article, studies have shown that exposure to smoking in movies is a risk factor for the initiation of cigarette smoking. Smoking initiation during early adolescence is indicative of risk for continued smoking through adulthood and difficulty in subsequent discontinuance of smoking. Movies are designed to reach a large audience and they deliver billions of impressions of smoking to American adolescents each year. In this study, researchers hypothesized that movie-smoking exposure would be a risk factor for entering later stages of smoking as well as for the initiation of smoking. Among one of the reasons for this hypothesis was that among adolescents who are beginning to smoke, exposure to movie-smoking cues increases their positive expectations about smoking. Other research cited in this study noted that exposure to smoking in movies is also associated with involvement in peer groups of adolescent smokers, who provide modeling and reinforcement for the behavior as well as greater access to cigarettes. This particular research was designed to investigate the effect of exposure to movie smoking on transition to established smoking, an outcome closely aligned with nicotine dependence and one that predicts dependent adult smoking. Participants for this study included 6,522 American adolescents aged 10 to 14 years at the beginning of the survey. The participants were re-surveyed at 8 months, 16 months, and 24 months. In particular, the researchers studied the affects of these adolescents exposure to smoking after viewing 532 box-office hits released in the five years prior to the survey. The adolescents were surveyed by telephone in their homes. After conducting these surveys and comparing the results, researchers concluded that exposure to smoking in movies predicted a risk of becoming an established smoker, an outcome linked with adult dependent smoking and its associated morbidity and mortality.1

1Exposure to Smoking Depictions in Movies, Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, Vol. 161, No. 9, September 2007, pp. 849-856.

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