Hunt et al used the Beach method (I can’t find what that is) to ascertain the degree of U.K. adolescents’ exposure to moviestars’ smoking in films. Those teens who went to a lot of movies that had smoking were twice as likely to smoke as those with low exposure to film smoking. Those with parental rules about watching TV and films were about 1/3 as likely to smoke as those living without such rules. Those teens who watched a lot of films with friends, rather than with their families, had a 2.2 adjusted odds ratio for smoking. Speaking of films, the tobacco industry’s insidious infiltration of the film biz — the ultimate product placement — was hilariously done as a plot device in the movie (and book) “Thank You For Smoking.”
In a related study reporting survey results of 16,000 European teens, similar results were seen (after controlling for the number of movies seen, as well as “rebelliousness,” “sensation seeking” and other rambunctiousness, the adjusted odds ratio was 1.7 for the highest vs. the lowest quartile of film-smoke viewing exposure).
Of course, this doesn’t completely rule out the possibility that the kids going out to movies all the time were just more social and cooler than the homebodies with strict parents, and their smoking had nothing to do with the films. Authors say that films in the U.K. with smoking in them should require viewers to be 18. In the prudish U.S., most of our films that have smoking in them are already rated R (although smoking in a film does not automatically gain it an R rating).
Hunt et al. Exposure to smoking in films and own smoking among Scottish adolescents: a cross-sectional study. Thorax 2011;66:866-874. FREE FULL TEXT