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Movie Smoking May Influence Both Children and Adolescents

Exposure to smoking in movies shown to impact elementary school children and European adolescents

TUESDAY, Jan. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Exposure to smoking in movies significantly increases the risk that elementary school children will begin smoking, according to a report published in the January issue of Pediatrics. A second report finds that European adolescents are more likely to try smoking after being exposed to smoking in American movies.

Linda Titus-Ernstoff, Ph.D., of the Dartmouth Medical School in Lebanon, N.H., and colleagues recruited a sample of 2,499 children between 9 and 12 years of age from schools in New Hampshire and Vermont. Approximately 80 percent of the children's exposure to movie smoking came from watching films that were rated G, PG or PG-13. The authors estimate that movie smoking may be responsible for at least one-third of smoking initiation by children in the studied age group.

In the second study, Reiner Hanewinkel, Ph.D., of the Institute for Therapy and Health Research in Kiel, Germany, and a colleague followed smoking behaviors in 2,711 German children, aged 10 to 16 years, after exposure to internationally distributed American movies that were box-office hits in Germany. Increased exposure to movie smoking was associated with increased incidence of trying smoking, an effect that was significantly stronger in adolescents whose parents did not smoke.

"Although the peak period for smoking initiation is during adolescence, our data suggest that preventive efforts need to begin much earlier," Titus-Ernstoff and colleagues conclude.

Abstract - Titus-Ernstoff
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Abstract - Hanewinkel
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