Saturday, February 21, 2009

The James Dean effect: Children seduced by smoking in the movies

Why do children start smoking? Research suggests that about half of them start because they've seen people they admire smoking in the movies.

Think of it as the James Dean effect. The sneer, the essence of cool, and an ever-present cigarette.

But that was then. We know better now, don't we?

Apparently not.

Researchers who analyzed 1,769 films released over the past 18 years say most exposure to smoking on the big screen occurs in films rated as suitable for children, especially those rated PG-13.

Some of the findings in their report:

--Sixty-five percent of the exposure to smoking occurred in PG-13 films.

--Most G, PG, and PG-13 films include smoking. (Or, as they put it, fewer than half are smoke-free.)

--The appearance of tobacco in films has fallen by about half since 2005, but is still higher than it was in the late 1990s.

--And the number of films in which the tobacco brand is shown "has, if anything, increased," the researchers say. The brand most often displayed was Marlboro. And what brand do children favor over all others?


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