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Am J Prev Med. 2013 Apr;44(4):345-50. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2012.12.008.

Exposure to smoking in movies and smoking initiation among black youth.

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Department of Communication Studies and Research Center for Group Dynamics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.



Black adolescents see more substance use in mainstream media but seem less responsive to it than other U.S. adolescents. Black-oriented media may be more personally relevant to them.


To determine smoking exposure separately for black-oriented (BSME) and mainstream (MMSE) movies and assess their longitudinal relationships with smoking among black and other-race adolescents.


Two-wave (2007-2009) national cohort survey of 2341 nonsmoking (at baseline) U.S. adolescents (aged 13-19 years), analyzed in 2012. The surveys determined BMSE and MMSE based on respondents' exposure to random subsets of 50 movies from a contemporary sample of 95 black-oriented and 288 mainstream movies previously content-coded for smoking. Outcome was smoking initiation.


Black teens had significantly more BMSE and MMSE than other teens (p's <0.001). At follow-up, 23.5% of black and 29.0% of nonblack respondents had tried smoking. Among black respondents, BMSE was related to smoking initiation at follow-up but MMSE was not. For other adolescents, both BMSE and MMSE were related to smoking initiation.


A prospective relationship was found between exposure to smoking in movies and smoking initiation. Among black adolescents in the U.S., this was only for black-oriented movies, suggesting the importance of personal relevance of the exposures. Parents, practitioners, and producers should be aware of these potential influences of media on black teen viewers.

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