Movie Smoking Hooks Teens, Experts Say

By Batchelor, Suzanne | National Catholic Reporter, February 6, 2004 | Go to article overview

Movie Smoking Hooks Teens, Experts Say


Batchelor, Suzanne, National Catholic Reporter


"Smoking in movies is responsible for addicting 1,080 U.S. adolescents to tobacco every day, 340 of whom will die prematurely as a result."

--Editorial, The Lancet British medical journal, June 10, 2003

Watching popular movies is the No. 1 factor leading nonsmoking teens to light up, say researchers from New Hampshire's Dartmouth Medical School in a landmark 2003 study published in The Lancet. They found film character smoking more persuasive than traditional advertising, peer pressure or parents.

"Smoking in movies is having a major effect on health," concluded The Lancet editorial accompanying their findings. Given that the tobacco companies have agreed in settlements to cease marketing to the young, the question remains, how is it that the film industry has begun to release movies that give special play to lead figures who smoke?

No one seems to have any easy answers, but regardless of why movie characters are smoking, the health harm is the same.

"There's a link between movie smoking and what kids do, and there's a lot of smoking in movies. It's extremely prevalent," said physician Michael Beach, who worked with Drs. Madeline Dalton, James Sargent and others on the Dartmouth study. Surprisingly, the researchers found the persuasive effect was strongest in children of nonsmoking parents.

Beach and colleagues also found that about 60 percent of the smoking in popular films was seen in the youth-rated movies (G, PG and PG-13).

Beach is typical of many tobacco control advocates and researchers who see:

* Attractive actors smoking identifiable brands on-screen, making tobacco control advocates fear for the health of a new, young generation of tobacco addicts;

* A tobacco industry that says it advertises only to adults who freely choose to smoke while the a film industry keeps producing movies aimed at teens in which smoking is surprisingly widespread;

* Intriguing questions--but no answers--about how tobacco products get such big play in most top-rated and youth-rated movies.

To take the last point first: Among the top 10 box office movies reported for the week of Nov. 10--including "The Matrix Revolutions," "Elf," "School of Rock," "Mystic River," "Scary Movie 3," "Radio" and "Brother Bear"--only "Brother Bear" was smoking free. Characters smoke in more than two-thirds of youth-rated movies released in 2002 (movies rated G, PG and PG-13), according to a survey by Dr. Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine, and analyst Karen Kacirk.

Most smokers begin as teenagers, researchers say, and smoking may be more addictive begun in those years when the brain is still forming.

"If you don't smoke by 18 or 21," Beach said, "the odds of starting as an adult are extremely small. It's getting these children through adolescence that's particularly important."

Only the major characters

The Dartmouth movie study didn't count the characters lighting up in the background, only cigarettes on the lips of major film characters. Researchers followed 2,600 children who had never smoked, ages 10 to 14, for one and two years, tracking which of 50 randomly selected top-selling movies they watched. Smoking by each film's central characters was measured.

Movie watching nearly tripled the risk a teen would start smoking, said Beach, who added, "What's surprising to some people is that movies can have that much impact." But is it? "Tom Cruise wore Ray-Ban sunglasses in one film and suddenly everyone has them." No surprise then at what results when "Julia Roberts and Sean Penn are seen smoking in movies."

Along with smoking, clearly visible tobacco brand names in movies are a major issue with anti-smoking advocates.

Health advocates point to the Marlboros smoked by Sam Rockwell in the 2003 film "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind," Sissy Spacek's Marlboros in "In the Bedroom," Russell Crowe's Winstons in "A Beautiful Mind," or John Travolta's Skoal in "Basic," to name but a few examples. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Movie Smoking Hooks Teens, Experts Say
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.