Smoking on screen could influence teens, suggests research

Smoking on screen could influence teens, suggests researchThe debate that films could potentially influence behaviour in viewers has been on-going for years now, with the most recent research suggesting that teenagers who watch films depicting actors lighting up are more likely to take up the habit themselves.

Experts from Bristol University investigated the impact that some of the 360 top US box office films depicting smoking could have upon teenagers.

5,000 15 year olds were questioned in the study, with results showing that those who saw the most films involving smoking were 73% more likely to have tried smoking than those who were exposed to the least. In addition, teens who saw the most of those types of films were also 50% more likely to be a current smoker.

The experts went on to control the variables of the study, and even after doing so the teens who watched the most smoking inclusive films were still 32% more likely to have tried smoking.

According to head researcher Andrea Waylen, a linear relationship between adolescent smoking and the number of films they had seen depicting smoking was established.

The UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies has taken the issue up with the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) and has requested that they do more to protect children from imagery that could be harmful to them.

However, director of the BBFC David Cook has said that though the organisation is keen to ensure that smoking is not glamorised, there is no public support for increasing film classifications for those which do contain scenes of smoking.

“Glamorising smoking has therefore been included as a classification issue in our published classification guidelines and we frequently use our extended classification information to draw the attention of parents and others to depictions of smoking in films.”

Those who oppose the study, such as director of smokers’ group Forest, Simon Clark, has said a move to increase classifications for films depicting smoking is patronising and unnecessary.

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Emma Hilton

Written by Emma Hilton

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