Background: The National Cancer Institute has concluded that exposure to smoking in movies causes adolescent smoking and there are similar results for young adults.
Purpose: This study investigated whether exposure of young adult smokers to images of smoking in films stimulated smoking behavior.
Methods: 100 cigarette smokers aged 18-25 years were randomly assigned to watch a movie montage composed with or without smoking scenes and paraphernalia followed by a 10-minute recess. The outcome was whether or not participants smoked during the recess. Data were collected and analyzed in 2008 and 2009.
Results: Smokers who watched the smoking scenes were more likely to smoke during the break (OR=3.06, 95% CI=1.01, 9.29). In addition to this acute effect of exposure, smokers who had seen more smoking in movies before the day of the experiment were more likely to smoke during the break (OR=6.73, 95% CI=1.00, 45.25, comparing the top to bottom 5th percentiles of exposure). Level of nicotine dependence (OR=1.71, 95% CI=1.27, 2.32 per point on the Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence scale); contemplation (OR=9.07, 95% CI=1.71, 47.99) and precontemplation (OR=7.30, 95% CI=1.39, 38.36) stages of change; and impulsivity (OR=1.21, 95% CI=1.03, 1.43) were also associated with smoking during the break. Participants who watched the montage with smoking scenes and those with a higher level of nicotine dependence were also more likely to have smoked within 30 minutes after the study.
Conclusions: There is a direct link between viewing smoking scenes and immediate subsequent smoking behavior. This finding suggests that individuals attempting to limit or quit smoking should be advised to refrain from or reduce their exposure to movies that contain smoking.
2010 American Journal of Preventive Medicine. All rights reserved.