Background: Socio-cultural factors, including media and family, play an important role in introducing and reinforcing pro-smoking intentions. Tendencies to appraise smokers in media in positive, negative, and empathic ways may play a role in the social and familial dynamics influencing smoking intentions.
Objective: This study assessed: (1) social group differences in appraisals of pro- and antismoking imagery in media; (2) whether parental antismoking expectations are associated with less positive appraisals; and (3) whether these appraisal tendencies mediate the relationship between parental antismoking expectations and smoking intentions.
Methods and materials: Adolescents (N = 515, ages 11-13, M = 11.5 years) from Auckland, New Zealand completed a multimedia, computer-based questionnaire assessing media exposure of smoking imagery in four media clips as well as media exposure, parental attitudes toward smoking, and smoking intentions.
Results: Appraisals of smoking imagery in the media clips and media consumption were patterned on the basis of gender, ethnic group, school economic status, and peer and parent smoking behaviors. Positive appraisals of the smoking images were found to mediate the relationship between weaker parental antismoking expectations and greater smoking intentions.
Conclusion: Parents may have significant influence over how adolescents perceive smoking imagery in media by presenting clear and unambiguous expectations about tobacco use at home. These expectations may shape how adolescents respond to smoking images by effectively "tainting" the image.
Copyright © 2011 Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.