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Movies Linked to Adolescents' Risk of Smoking Later On

In study, preteens and teenagers were asked about their exposure to 532 films

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Adolescents' exposure to movies that feature characters who smoke is associated with their risk of becoming established smokers, according to the results of a study published in the September issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

James D. Sargent, M.D., of Dartmouth Medical School in Lebanon, N.H., and colleagues analyzed data collected from 6,522 children aged 10 to 14 at baseline, who were resurveyed three times at eight-month intervals. The researchers asked the adolescents about their smoking history at each occasion. They also asked subjects about their exposure to a sample of movies taken from a pool of 532 films, from which researchers had tallied occurrences of smoking.

The hazard ratio for risk of established smoking -- defined as a history of smoking more than 100 cigarettes -- was 2.04 for subjects in the 95th percentile of movie-smoking exposure versus the 5th percentile. Previous research has found that established smoking, in turn, predicts adult smoking dependency.

"The context of current theory and research suggests the most plausible explanation is that frequent exposure to smoking cues in movies leads to more positive expectancies about effects of smoking, more favorable perceptions of smokers, and a greater tendency to affiliate with teens who smoke, all factors that increase risk for smoking," the authors write.

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