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US movies expose youth to billions of smoking images

HANOVER, NH Two new studies by Dartmouth Medical School pediatrician researchers underscore the significant impact that movies have in influencing teens to smoke. The studies show that movies deliver billions of smoking impressions to American teens; and that even teens outside the U.S. are affected by smoking images in films distributed internationally by American studios.

In a report published in today's Pediatrics, "Exposure to Movie Smoking Among US Adolescents Aged 10 to 14 Years: A Population Estimate," Dr. James Sargent and his co-authors, researchers at Norris Cotton Cancer Center, used a nationally representative sample of 6,522 U.S. adolescents aged 10-14 years, and assessed their exposure to 534 popular contemporary box-office hits. Three out of four movies (74%) studied contained smoking, for a total of 3,830 smoking images. Based on the number of U.S. adolescents seeing each movie and the smoking contained in each, the researchers estimated that these movies delivered 13.9 billion gross smoking impressions. Sixty one percent of these impressions were delivered by youth-rated movies. Of the group of movies surveyed, some 30 of the movies delivered more than 100 million smoking impressions each. Many of these high-impact movies were rated PG-13. "The apparently free delivery of star smoking to a young teen population is a tobacco marketer's dream," said Dr. Sargent.

More than 3,000 actors appeared in these movies, and 500 of them smoked on screen. Yet 30 of the top stars, mostly male, delivered more than 25% of the total smoking images. At the same time, many other top actors starred in five or more of these movies without smoking in any. "If just one of these popular stars decided to quit smoking in movies it would make a major difference on adolescent exposure," said Dr. Susanne Tanski, one of the authors.

Just as with their American peers, German adolescents are highly influenced by the on-screen smoking behavior of
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Contact: Rebecca Bailey
rebecca.a.bailey@dartmouth.edu
603-646-2117
Dartmouth College
7-May-2007


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