New research suggests that films depicting smoking encourage teenagers to smoke
Teenagers take up smoking because they see it on the big screen, research by the University of Bristol and Dartmouth Medical School suggests.
The study of 5,000 15-year olds looked at their exposure to smoking on screen, and whether or not they had tried smoking. Those who had received the most exposure to films depicting smoking were 73 per cent more likely to have tried a cigarette than those who were less exposed.
However, this figure dropped to 32 per cent when other factors, such as social class and parental behaviour, were taken into consideration.
While the study provides a valuable snapshot of adolescent film viewing and smoking habits, it cannot prove that watching actors smoke on screen leads teens to light up.
It is probable, however, that role models on the big screen have an effect on teenage smoking habits.
While the film rating systems take issues such as violence into consideration, they neglect to address smoking and the researchers believe that these findings justify a review of film ratings.
Further research is required to ascertain whether reclassifying films featuring smoking to certificate 18 could reduce the number of adolescents smoking.
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