Teen Exposure to Smoking in Films Ups Smoking Behaviors

Association with initiation, current smoking persists after adjusting for confounders

THURSDAY, Sept. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Adolescents with higher exposure to smoking depictions in films are more likely to initiate smoking and be current smokers, even after adjusting for social, family, and behavioral confounders, according to a study and meta-analysis published online Sept. 19 in Thorax.

Andrea E. Waylen, from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, and colleagues investigated the association between exposure to smoking depictions in films and smoking behavior in 5,166 adolescents aged 15 years. Smoking initiation (ever tried a cigarette) and current smoking statuses were the outcomes measured. The results were adjusted for social, family, and behavioral factors, with alcohol use and peer smoking as potential mediators. A meta-analysis was performed on all existing cross-sectional studies analyzing the effects of smoking depictions in films.

The investigators found that even after adjusting for confounders, higher exposure to smoking in films correlated with increased risk of smoking initiation in a dose-response manner. Compared to adolescents in the lowest exposure quartile, those in the highest quartile were more likely to initiate smoking (relative risk [RR], 1.73). After adjusting for familial and social confounders they were more likely to report current smoking (RR, 1.47), but including behavioral factors attenuated the association (RR, 1.34). The meta-analysis showed that viewing smoking depictions in films increased the risk of smoking onset, and of current or established smoking behavior by 113 and 68 percent, respectively (combined RR, 2.13 and 1.68, respectively).

"Adolescents who watch more films with smoking depictions are more likely to initiate smoking and more likely to be current smokers," the authors write.

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