Smoking in movies does encourage kids to light up

January 9th, 2008 - 5:43 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Jan 9 (ANI): Movies seen in childhood does influence kids to start smoking, says a study, which also discovered that films rated “G,” “PG” and “PG-13, provided the maximum exposure of smoking scenes to the kids.

The study led by Linda Titus-Ernstoff, a pediatrics professor at Dartmouth Medical School , aimed to determine the impact of movie smoking on young people.

The researchers focused on more than 2,200 boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 12 who were enrolled in grades four through six in 26 elementary schools in New Hampshire and Vermont .

Movies seen at the youngest ages had as much influence over later smoking behavior as the movies that children had seen recently. And I’m increasingly convinced that this association between movie-smoking exposure and smoking initiation is real,” Live Science quoted Titus-Ernstoff, as saying.

She added: “That’s to say, causal. It is quite improbable that the association we see is due to some other influence, some other characteristic inherent in children or parental behavior. The relationship is clearly between movie-smoking and smoking initiation.

For the study, the researchers interviewed the children and their parents in 2002 and 2003, in order to find out if the kids had smoked in the past.

A list of 50 movies out of 550 top 100 box-office hits released over the five-and-a-half years before the study started in 2002 was used. Almost 40 pct of the films were rated “R,” 40 pct “PG-13,” 14 pct “PG,” and 5 pct “G.”

Approximately one and two years after the initial survey of the kids, two more interviews were also conducted.

A new movie list was drafted at each follow-up point, and it included 50 films randomly selected from the top 100 feature releases and the top 100 video rentals of the past year. And all these movies were coded for the number of “smoking occurrences”.

The researchers found that 21 pct of the smoking occurrences were found in “R” movies, 60 pct were found in “PG-13″ movies, and almost 19 pct were found in “G” or “PG” films.

While, the “G-rated” movies that had smoking scenes included 102 Dalmations, Tarzan and Muppets from Space, “PG” films on the list that had smoking scenes were: George of the Jungle, Atlantis: The Lost Empire and The Rainmaker.

In the third survey, it was found that about 10 pct of the kids had started smoking, and had viewed almost 37 films on an average. This meant an average exposure to almost 150 smoking occurrences.

Keeping in mind the other factors influencing behavior, it was concluded that 35 pct of smoking initiation among the children was directly linked to seeing smoking scenes on the screen.

Titus-Ernstoff said that children who may have seen smoking scenes at a preschool age were equally prone to start smoking as those who had seen such scenes at a later age.

“Our finding is that the vast majority of smoking in movies that children are exposed to comes from movies that are youth-rated. So even if parents are doing a good job protecting their children from ‘R’-rated movies, they still need to pay attention to the ‘G,’ ‘PG,’ and ‘PG-13′ movies,” she said.

The findings of this study are published in the recent issue of Pediatrics. (ANI)

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