Motives for Smoking in Movies Affect Future Smoking Risk in Middle School Students
An Experimental Investigation
Published In: Drug and Alcohol Dependence, v. 123, no. 1-3, June 2012, p. 66-71
Posted on RAND.org on June 01, 2012
BACKGROUND: Exposure to smoking in movies has been linked to adolescent smoking uptake. However, beyond linking amount of exposure to smoking in movies with adolescent smoking, whether the way that smoking is portrayed in movies matters for influencing adolescent smoking has not been investigated. This study experimentally examined how motivation for smoking depicted in movies affects self-reported future smoking risk (a composite measure with items that assess smoking refusal self-efficacy and smoking intentions) among early adolescents. METHODS: A randomized laboratory experiment was used. Adolescents were exposed to movie scenes depicting one of three movie smoking motives: social smoking motive (characters smoked to facilitate social interaction); relaxation smoking motive (characters smoked to relax); or no smoking motive (characters smoked with no apparent motive, i.e., in neutral contexts and/or with neutral affect). Responses to these movie scenes were contrasted (within subjects) to participants' responses to control movie scenes in which no smoking was present; these control scenes matched to the smoking scenes with the same characters in similar situations but where no smoking was present. A total of 358 adolescents, aged 11–14 years, participated. RESULTS: Compared with participants exposed to movie scenes depicting characters smoking with no clear motive, adolescents exposed to movie scenes depicting characters smoking for social motives and adolescents exposed to movie scenes depicting characters smoking for relaxation motives had significantly greater chances of having increases in their future smoking risk. CONCLUSIONS: Exposure to movies that portray smoking motives places adolescents at particular risk for future smoking.