Citation Morgenstern M, Poelen E, Scholte R, Karlsdottir S, Jonsson SH, Mathis F, Faggiano F, Florek E, Sweeting H, Hunt K, Sargent J & Hanewinkel R (2011) Smoking in movies and adolescent smoking: Cross-cultural study in six European countries. Thorax, 66 (10), pp. 875-883. https://doi.org/10.1136/thoraxjnl-2011-200489
Abstract Aim: To investigate whether the association between exposure to smoking in movies and smoking among youth is independent of cultural context.
Method: Cross-sectional survey of 16 551 pupils recruited in Germany, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Scotland with a mean age of 13.4 years (SD=1.18) and an equal gender distribution. Schoolbased surveys were conducted between November 2009 and June 2010. Using previously validated methods, exposure to movie smoking was estimated from the 250 top-grossing movies of each country (years 2004-2009) and related to ever smoking.
Results: Overall, 29% of the sample had tried smoking. The sample quartile (Q) of movie smoking exposure was significantly associated with the prevalence of ever smoking: 14% of adolescents in Q1 had tried smoking, 21% in Q2, 29% in Q3 and 36% in Q4. After controlling for age, gender, family affluence, school performance, television screen time, number of movies seen, sensation seeking and rebelliousness and smoking within the social environment (peers, parents and siblings), the adjusted ORs for having tried smoking in the entire sample were 1.3 (95% CI 1.1 to 1.5) for adolescents in Q2, 1.6 (95% CI 1.4 to 1.9) for Q3 and 1.7 (95% CI 1.4 to 2.0) for Q4 compared with Q1. The adjusted relationship between ever smoking and higher movie smoking exposure levels was significant in all countries with a non-linear association in Italy and Poland.
Conclusions: The link between smoking in movies and adolescent smoking is robust and transcends different cultural contexts. Limiting young people's exposure to movie smoking could have important public health implications.