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HHS HealthBeat (August 7, 2012)

Lights, camera, smoking

A teenage girl smokes.
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From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I’m Nicholas Garlow with HHS HealthBeat.

Movies may be clouding kids’ perceptions about smoking. Researchers at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center in New Hampshire looked at how smoking exposure in movies influenced teens and tweens. They took a sample of box office hits, coded them for smoking, and then asked kids if they had seen them.

Dr. James Sargent at Dartmouth led the study.

“The more movie smoking that they see, the more likely they are to try smoking. If you got rid of that exposure, that would lower youth smoking by about 18 percent.”

Parents can reduce influence by monitoring what their teens see.

“They have to set limits on how much media their children are allowed to consumer, and movies are a really important part of that consumption.”

The study in the journal Pediatrics was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

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HHS HealthBeat is a production of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I’m Nicholas Garlow.

Last revised: August 7, 2012