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J Health Commun. 2012;17(1):76-89. doi: 10.1080/10810730.2011.585697. Epub 2011 Nov 15.

When movies matter: exposure to smoking in movies and changes in smoking behavior.

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Department of Communication Studies, University of Michigan, 102 South State Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1285, USA.


The authors investigated the association between exposure to smoking in movies and the initiation and progression of adolescent smoking over time among 6,522 U.S. adolescents (between the ages of 10 and 14 years, at baseline) in a nationally representative, 4-wave random-digit-dial telephone survey. They conducted a hazard (survival) analysis testing whether exposure to movie smoking and demographic, personality, social, and structural factors predict (a) earlier smoking onset and (b) faster transition to experimental (1-99 cigarettes/lifetime) and established smoking (>100 cigarettes/lifetime). Results suggest that higher exposure to movie smoking is associated with less time to trying cigarettes for the first time (adjusted hazard ratio = 1.66; 95% CI [1.37, 2.01]) but not with faster escalation of smoking behavior following initiation (adjusted hazard ratio = 1.53; 95% CI [0.84, 2.79]). In contrast, age, peer smoking, parenting style, and availability of cigarettes in the home were predictors of earlier onset and faster transition to established smoking. Thus, the authors concluded that the effect of exposure to mass-mediated images of smoking in movies may decline once adolescents have started to smoke, whereas peers and access to tobacco remain influential.

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