Background: Exposure to mass media may impact the use of tobacco, a major source of illness and death in India. The objective is to test the association of self-reported tobacco smoking and chewing with frequency of use of four types of mass media: newspapers, radio, television, and movies.
Methodology/principal findings: We analyzed data from a sex-stratified nationally-representative cross-sectional survey of 123,768 women and 74,068 men in India. All models controlled for wealth, education, caste, occupation, urbanicity, religion, marital status, and age. In fully-adjusted models, monthly cinema attendance is associated with increased smoking among women (relative risk [RR]: 1.55; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.04-2.31) and men (RR: 1.17; 95% CI: 1.12-1.23) and increased tobacco chewing among men (RR: 1.15; 95% CI: 1.11-1.20). Daily television and radio use is associated with higher likelihood of tobacco chewing among men and women, while daily newspaper use is related to lower likelihood of tobacco chewing among women.
Conclusion/significance: In India, exposure to visual mass media may contribute to increased tobacco consumption in men and women, while newspaper use may suppress the use of tobacco chewing in women. Future studies should investigate the role that different types of media content and media play in influencing other health behaviors.