Background Evidence of high exposure of UK youth to images of smoking in films has led to calls for an 18 rating for films with smoking to reduce smoking in youth. However, the only study to date in the UK to test for an association showed no relation between film-smoking exposure and smoking among young adults.
Objective To assess whether there is an association between exposure to film images of smoking and own smoking among UK adolescents and whether repeated viewings of films has an impact.
Design Cross-sectional study.
Participants 1999 pupils aged 15–16 years from 13 Scottish schools.
Outcome Smoked tobacco in the past year.
Exposure measure Film-smoking exposure was assessed using the Beach method; account for repeated viewings of films was then used to modify estimated exposure. Covariates included: media usage, parental restriction on and context of TV/film viewing, family connectedness, parental monitoring and friends' smoking.
Results Most (71%) students had not smoked in the past year. About half reported no parental restrictions on TV/film viewing. Many reported repeated viewings of films; accounting for this more than doubled exposure estimates and strengthened the association with smoking. Adolescents with high exposure to film smoking were more likely to have smoked than those with low exposure (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 2.08, 95% CI 1.22 to 3.55). Additionally, adolescents who reported parental rules about TV/film watching were less likely to smoke (AOR 0.37 (0.27 to 0.52)) than those who did not. Adolescents who mainly watched films with friends had higher exposure to film smoking and were more likely to smoke (AOR 2.19 (1.10 to 4.38)).
Conclusions Exposure to film smoking is associated with smoking among Scottish adolescents. These data lend support to calls for an 18 rating for films with images of smoking.
- Tobacco use
- clinical epidemiology
- tobacco and the lung
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Funding The external evaluation of Healthy Respect 2 was funded by NHS Health Scotland. The role of this funder was to ensure that deadlines were met, to publish the Final Report, to support the dissemination of results, and to help translate results into policy and practice. KH, DW and MH are employed by the UK Medical Research Council (MC_US_A540_0036; MC_US_A540_0046). JS received funding from National Institutes of Health (CA07026, PI James Sargent).
Competing interests None.
Patient consent All participating pupils provided written informed consent to the study. In addition, parental opt out consent was obtained from parents.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.