Increasing Evidence Points to Link Between Youth Smoking, Smoking in Movies
A study funded by the National Cancer Institute and conducted by researchers from Dartmouth Medical School looked at kids aged 10 through 14 and found they had a higher risk of trying tobacco as their exposure to movie smoking increased.
Schmalfeldt: Smoking in the movies is nothing new — from the romantic lighting of two cigarettes with a single match in the Bette Davis movie "Now, Voyager, " to more recent classics like "Grease" where smoking is equated with being sexy and cool. Now comes increasing evidence that kids who are exposed to smoking on the silver screen are more likely to try cigarettes. A study funded by the National Cancer Institute and conducted by researchers from Dartmouth Medical School looked at kids aged 10 through 14 and found they had a higher risk of trying tobacco as their exposure to movie smoking increased. Adolescents with the greatest exposure to smoking in the movies were 2.6 times more likely to try smoking than their peers in the least exposed group even after accounting for other factors that influence youth smoking such as parents and friends smoking. This result was the same for all youth regardless of race, ethnicity, or where they lived in the U.S. Doctor Cathy Backinger, acting chief of the NCI Tobacco Control Research Branch said the study highlights the significant association between onscreen smoking and youth smoking.
Backinger: It's not a "cause and effect", it's a correlation. In fact, one could question, "are the kids that are watching the most smoking in movies more likely to smoke anyway, or did watching smoking in movies cause the kids to smoke. " So it's not really a "cause and effect" but a strong independent association.
Schmalfeldt: Doctor Backinger said there were some specific recommendations coming out of the study.
Backinger: The first one was to reduce the amount of depictions of smoking in the movies. The second was to incorporate smoking into the movie's ratings. And then lastly having increased or closer parental monitoring for their children and what they're actually watching.
Schmalfeldt: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the majority of adult smokers started the habit before the age of 18. Each day, nearly four-thousand young people try their first cigarette. Doctor Backinger said the statistics demonstrate how crucial it is to address the issue of adolescent smoking.
Backinger: Now we do know we want to reduce the exposure of smoking to kids, and I think that these areas need to be researched to see which are most effective. NCI is committed to finding answers for both prevention of tobacco use and helping people quit.
Schmalfeldt: The findings were published in the November 7th issue of the journal Pediatrics. From the National Institutes of Health, I'm Bill Schmalfeldt in Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Bill Schmalfeldt
Sound Bite: Dr. Cathy Backinger
Topic: Youth Smoking