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Smoking in movies prompts kids to light up
[Posted: Mon 09/07/2012 by Gillian Tsoi www.irishhealth.com]
Children who watch a lot of movies that feature cigarette smoking are more likely to start smoking themselves, according to new research.
The research suggests that the smoking itself by movie characters - and not the bad language, violence or sex that might accompany it - influences kids' propensity to light up.
As part of the study, researchers counted the number of times a character smoked in each of over 500 recent hit movies. They then surveyed 6,500 children (aged between 10 and 14 years) on 50 of those movies that they had watched.
On average, 275 scenes from films rated PG13 featured a character that was seen smoking. Meanwhile, 93 scenes from the R-rated movies featured a smoking character.
In three follow-up interviews, the children who had watched smoking-heavy movies were more likely to start the habit themselves.
For each extra 500 smoking shots reported in their initial survey, youth were 33% to 49% more likely to try cigarettes over the next two years.
"Movie smoking seems to be just as impactful if it's packaged in a PG-13 movie as opposed to an R movie," said lead author Dr James Sargent, from the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in Lebanon, New Hampshire.
"I really think it's a ‘cool' factor. The more they see it, the more they start to see ways that (smoking) might make them seem more movie-star," he said - even if the effect is subconscious.
The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.
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