Although people who did not take part in team sports were twice as likely to become smokers as those who played sports, "in both team sports participants and nonparticipants, the proportion of established smokers increased from lowest to highest levels of movie smoking exposure by the same amount, 19.3 percent," the researchers wrote.
In addition, smokers were more likely to be male, older, have parents with lower levels of education, have more friends who smoked, have parents who smoked, have poorer school performance and be more likely to engage in risky behaviors. Smokers were also less likely to be in school when they were 16 to 21, the researchers found.
Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine, said the powerful effects of films can be overcome by making children realize the dangers of smoking.
"The power of survey research of this kind to establish cause-and-effect is limited, but the conclusions reached here with data are consistent with those suggested by common sense," Katz said.
Smoking in movies often associates cigarettes with sophistication. And the more of this children see, the more inclined they are to see cigarette use in a favorable light, Katz said. "The findings here lend support to efforts to purge smoking from the movies to help reduce rates of smoking initiation by young people," he said.
The findings with regard to team sport participation are even stronger, Katz said. "This study can't tell us whether kids who smoke are less likely to play sports, or vice versa, but both are likely. The physical demands of sport, and the culture of fitness, both discourage tobacco use," he said.
"Overall, this paper suggests that the attitudes toward smoking in the culture that surrounds a child are apt to affect the attitude, and behavior, of that child," Katz said. "Our job is to raise every child in a culture that denigrates sm
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