Purpose: Youth are exposed to many types of protobacco influences, including smoking in movies, which has been shown to cause initiation. This study investigates associations between different channels of protobacco media and susceptibility to smoking cigarettes, cigarette experimentation, and current tobacco use among US middle and high school students.
Methods: By using data from the 2012 National Youth Tobacco Survey, structural equation modeling was performed in 2013. The analyses examined exposure to tobacco use in different channels of protobacco media on smoking susceptibility, experimentation, and current tobacco use, accounting for perceived peer tobacco use.
Results: In 2012, 27.9% of respondents were never-smokers who reported being susceptible to trying cigarette smoking. Cigarette experimentation increased from 6.3% in 6th grade to 37.1% in 12th grade. Likewise, current tobacco use increased from 5.2% in 6th grade to 33.2% in 12th grade. Structural equation modeling supported a model in which current tobacco use is associated with exposure to static advertising through perception of peer use, and by exposure to tobacco use depicted on TV and in movies, both directly and through perception of peer use. Exposure to static advertising appears to directly increase smoking susceptibility but indirectly (through increased perceptions of peer use) to increase cigarette experimentation. Models that explicitly incorporate peer use as a mediator can better discern the direct and indirect effects of exposure to static advertising on youth tobacco use initiation.
Conclusions: These findings underscore the importance of reducing youth exposure to smoking in TV, movies, and static advertising.