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Links between smoking and cinema

DennisLeary.jpgOn the topic of healthy films, some new research from various different countries shows a positive link between smoking in films and the uptake of smoking in teenagers, and what's more the majority of these films are American.

Here are some surprising facts from the first of the reports:

Three out of four American films had smoking scenes and researchers estimate that, in the United States alone, with the number of youngsters aged ten to 14 watching this equates to 13.9 billion smoking images...

...61 per cent of smoking scenes were in youth-rated films. The research found that just 30 actors, primarily lead males, delivered a quarter of the images of smoking.

That's some fascinating stats there, and it's not just that one study that The Scotsman has information on, there are further studies in both Mexico and Germany.

The German research, published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, found that teens who had seen the most smoking in films, mainly Hollywood favourites, were more than twice as likely to smoke as those who had seen the least. The study took into account the fact that tobacco advertising is still rife in Germany, yet the films exerted the same influence as in countries where it is less prevalent.

Mexican research, which is yet to be published but has been presented to conferences, has also revealed a strong link between on-screen smoking and youngsters taking up cigarettes.

This comes hard on the heels of a report fro the Harvard School of Public Health which advised the US Film Industry to totally remove any depiction of smoking from films that children and youths watch.

It's an interesting request, but one which I thought was largely being carried out in modern cinema. Nowadays it is rare to see a character smoking, and when they are it is usually to depict a more evil persona.

There's also the interesting cross over into that realm of cinema influencing those who watch it. It seems we can't escape the issue. Does smoking on screen influence those who watch it? Is it right to remove smoking from films which underage children can view?



Again, interesting. I seem to remember having this argument with people here before; relative to violence.

So smoking causes kids to smoke, but violence and sex in films and video games have no adverse effects whatsoever. Seems like contradictory statements to me.

Spot on Andrew. I have a very interesting article from New Scientist on the whole media influence, and it makes for interesting reading. I'm hoping to make it into a feature, once the previous couple have passed on.


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