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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Smoking in Young People – Correlations Between Smoking Habits and Movies Showing Smoking &#8

Thorax is an international medical journal, and is noted here because one of its October 2011 issues included a trio of articles on smoking among young people and its relationship to movies showing smoking. The articles are here, here, and here. Pasted below is the abstract from this article finding a cross-cultural study finding a positive correlation between teen age smoking and the portrayal of smoking in movies. One might debate the research methods, but the findings are provocative, especially for those of us who are parents of teen-agers, and see some of the kids making the mistake of lighting up.

There also is a related a podcast, which is here. The podcast introduction states:

"We were delighted to speak to Professor John Britton about the research published in the October issue of Thorax, by his and other groups, on smoking in the young.

John is a chest physician, an epidemiologist and a former editor of Thorax. He is the director of the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies at the University of Nottingham. John has been a giant in tobacco research. He chaired the influential RCP Tobacco Advisory Group and played a major role in making the case for banning smoking in public places. Arguably, he has done more than anyone else in this country to limit tobacco exposure. We applaud his contribution."



Aim To investigate whether the association between exposure to smoking in movies and smoking among youth is independent of cultural context.

Method Cross-sectional survey of 16 551 pupils recruited in Germany, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Scotland with a mean age of 13.4 years (SD=1.18) and an equal gender distribution. School-based surveys were conducted between November 2009 and June 2010. Using previously validated methods, exposure to movie smoking was estimated from the 250 top-grossing movies of each country (years 2004–2009) and related to ever smoking.

Results Overall, 29% of the sample had tried smoking. The sample quartile (Q) of movie smoking exposure was significantly associated with the prevalence of ever smoking: 14% of adolescents in Q1 had tried smoking, 21% in Q2, 29% in Q3 and 36% in Q4. After controlling for age, gender, family affluence, school performance, television screen time, number of movies seen, sensation seeking and rebelliousness and smoking within the social environment (peers, parents and siblings), the adjusted ORs for having tried smoking in the entire sample were 1.3 (95% CI 1.1 to 1.5) for adolescents in Q2, 1.6 (95% CI 1.4 to 1.9) for Q3 and 1.7 (95% CI 1.4 to 2.0) for Q4 compared with Q1. The adjusted relationship between ever smoking and higher movie smoking exposure levels was significant in all countries with a non-linear association in Italy and Poland.

Conclusions The link between smoking in movies and adolescent smoking is robust and transcends different cultural contexts. Limiting young people’s exposure to movie smoking could have important public health implications.

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