Thursday, September 11, 2008

Movies Smoking Make Teens Smoke

Source Connect with Kids
“That makes a lot of kids think about doing the same thing because these are their role models.”

– Arielle Jacobs, 13 years old

Will kids smoke just because they see an actor or actress in a movie light up? Sixteen-year-old Jay McManeon says, “no way.”

“For me, it doesn’t really matter if I saw someone smoking in the movie,” he says.

But other teens argue that smoking in movies does have an effect on teens.

“If they thought it was cool enough, like you if it was your idol, you might. If he smokes … you might want to do it,” 17-year-old Ryan Moses says.

A new report suggests he’s right.

After a review of more than 1,000 different studies, the National Cancer Institute finds that some kids start smoking because of what they see in the movies.

“Now what that is saying is even if you are doing a lot of things, like not smoking in your house and helping your kids stay away from other influences, the movies can overcome all of that influence,” says Dr. Terry Pechacek of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Experts say that’s why it’s important for parents to talk to kids about how movies may glamorize smoking and to explain that it’s not reality.

“Kids need resistance skills. They need to be able to interpret the media images,” Dr. Pechacek says.

The CDC produces three-minute video clips, hosted by teen actors, designed to do just that – show kids how actors use smoking in movies as a crutch.

“And there are even people who believe high rates of smoking in movies should be used as a criteria for parents saying, just like sex, just like violence … that I don’t think you should see this movie,” Dr. Pechacek says.

No matter what influences a child to start smoking, few would disagree that stopping is a whole lot harder.

Sixteen-year-old Jay McManeon could not agree more.

“I never think smoking’s an OK thing. It’s bad for your lungs. I just do it ‘cause I’m addicted,” he says.

Tips for Parents
A study published in The Lancet further illustrates how watching television or movies with actors who smoke negatively impacts youth behavior. Researchers from Dartmouth Medical School analyzed the viewing habits of 2,603 nonsmoking children aged 10 to 14, keeping track of how many incidents of smoking occurred in each movie they watched from a list of 50. After two years, they found that 10% of the children took up smoking or had at least tried it. Consider these additional findings from the study:

Of those children exposed to movies with the least amount of on-screen smoking, 22 began smoking.
Of those children exposed to movies with the highest occurrence of on-screen smoking, 107 became smokers.
Approximately 52% of the startup in smoking could be attributed to the movies.
Children of nonsmokers who watched movies with the highest number of smoking scenes were four times more likely to begin smoking than those who viewed movies featuring few smoking actors.
More than 6,000 children under the age of 18 try their first cigarette each day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also reports that more than 3,000 become daily smokers every day. It’s estimated that 4.5 million adolescents in the United States are cigarette smokers. 90 percent of cigarette smokers start before they turn 21.

The statistics show that little progress has been made in the past decade in reducing teen smoking. The American Lung Association calls smoking a “tobacco-disease epidemic” and points to the high rates of cigarette use among high school seniors, particularly girls, as evidence of this lack of progress.

Health and medical experts agree that parents must discourage children from starting to smoke and becoming addicted. Parents should also talk to their children about the health risks of tobacco and set a good example for their children by not smoking themselves. School-based tobacco education programs have also been shown to be effective in reducing the onset of teen smoking.

According to research from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA), the key to keeping kids from smoking and using drugs is dependent on the extent to which parents take a “hands-on” approach to raising their kids. The more they establish appropriate rules and standards of behavior and monitor their teens, the lower the teen’s risk of substance abuse.

A “hands-on” approach to preventing your teen from smoking, drinking or trying drugs, according to CASA, includes consistently taking 10 or more of these 12 actions:

Monitor what your teen watches on television.
Monitor what your teen does on the Internet.
Put restrictions on the music (CDs) your teen buys.
Know where your teen spends time after school and on weekends.
Expect to be told the truth by your teen about where he or she is going.
Be “very aware” of your teen’s academic performance.
Impose a curfew.
Make clear you would be “extremely upset” if your teen smoked.
Eat dinner with your teens six or seven times a week.
Turn off the television during dinner.
Assign your teen regular chores.
Have an adult present when your teen returns from school.
National Cancer Institute
American Lung Association
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University
The Lancet

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