Movie exposure to smoking cues and adolescent smoking onset: a test for mediation through peer affiliations

Health Psychol. 2007 Nov;26(6):769-76. doi: 10.1037/0278-6133.26.6.769.


Objective: To determine whether the effect of movie exposure to smoking on adolescent smoking onset is mediated through increased affiliation with peers who smoke.

Design: A longitudinal study was conducted with a sample of 5th- 8th graders; persons who were nonsmokers at the baseline assessment (N = 2,614) were followed up 18 months later. Movie exposure to smoking cues was assessed at baseline with a rigorous coding procedure.

Main outcome measure: A school-based survey and follow-up telephone interview determined whether the participant smoked cigarettes.

Results: Longitudinal structural modeling analysis indicated movie-smoking exposure was related to smoking onset both through an indirect effect involving increased affiliation with peer smokers and through a direct effect. The analysis controlled for demographics, parenting style, rebelliousness and sensation seeking, school performance, parental smoking, and sibling smoking; several of these variables also had mediated or direct effects to smoking onset.

Conclusion: The effect of movie exposure on adolescent smoking onset is attributable in part to a social mechanism. Implications of media effects for prevention are discussed.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Child
  • Cues*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motion Pictures*
  • New Hampshire / epidemiology
  • Peer Group*
  • Psychological Theory
  • Regression Analysis
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Smoking Prevention
  • Vermont / epidemiology