PITTSBURGH, Oct. 9 Today alone, more than 4,400 U.S. teenagers will start smoking, according to statistics from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. Many of these adolescents will be lured to cigarettes by advertisements and movies that feature sophisticated models and actors, suggesting that smoking is a glamorous, grown-up activity. However, teens who are savvier about the motives and methods of advertisers may be less inclined to take to cigarettes, a University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine study indicates.
Teens with above-average smoking media literacy (SML) are nearly half as likely to smoke as their less media-literate peers, according to the lead study in the current issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health. The results not only suggest that SML training could be an effective intervention to decrease teen smoking, but they also provide some of the first quantitative evidence linking SML to smoking.
"Many factors that influence a teen's decision to smoke like peer influence, parental smoking and risk-seeking tendency are difficult to change," said the study's lead author, Brian Primack, M.D., Ed.M., assistant professor in the School of Medicine's division of general internal medicine. "However, media literacy, which can be taught, may be a valuable tool in efforts to discourage teens from smoking."
Earlier research by Dr. Primack and his colleagues established the reliability and validity of the scale used to measure SML. In that work, more than 1,200 suburban Pittsburgh high school students were assigned SML scores of 1 to 10 based on their responses to an 18-item survey in which they agreed or disagreed with statements such as, "Advertisements usually leave out a lot of important information" and "Movie scenes with smoking in them are made very carefully." The higher their scores, the higher their SML.
In the current study, Dr. Primack and his colleagues conducted further analysis, more co
Contact: Kelli McElhinny
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center