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Tobacco use in Bollywood movies, tobacco promotional activities and their association with tobacco use among Indian adolescents
  1. Monika Arora1,2,
  2. Neha Mathur1,
  3. Vinay K Gupta1,
  4. Gaurang P Nazar1,
  5. K Srinath Reddy1,2,
  6. James D Sargent3
  1. 1Health Related Information Dissemination Amongst Youth (HRIDAY), New Delhi, India
  2. 2Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), New Delhi, India
  3. 3Community and Family Medicine and Pediatrics, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, New Hampshire, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Monika Arora, HRIDAY, C-1/52, 3rd floor, Safdarjung Development Area, New Delhi 110016, India; monika{at}


Background Smoking in Hollywood movies is a known risk factor for teen smoking in the USA and Europe, but little is known about the association between exposure to tobacco use in Bollywood movies and teen tobacco use in India.

Methods A cross-sectional sample of 3956 adolescents (eighth and ninth grades, ages 12–16 years) from 12 randomly selected New Delhi schools was surveyed in 2009, assessing tobacco use status, receptivity to tobacco promotions (based on owning or being willing to wear tobacco-branded merchandise) and exposure to tobacco use in movies. Quartiles of exposure to tobacco use in popular Bollywood movies released from 2006 to 2008 (n=59) were determined by content coding them for tobacco use and querying the adolescents whether they had seen each one. Logistic regression was used to control for covariates including age, gender, parent education, school performance, sensation-seeking propensity, family and peer tobacco use, and authoritative parenting.

Results Altogether, the 59 movies contained 412 tobacco use occurrences. The prevalence of ever tobacco use among adolescents was 5.3%. Compared with low-exposure adolescents (quartile 1), the adjusted odds of ever tobacco use among high-exposure adolescents (quartile 4) was 2.3 (95% CI 1.3 to 3.9). Being receptive to tobacco promotions was also associated with higher adjusted odds of ever tobacco use, 2.0 (95% CI 1.4 to 3.0).

Conclusion Watching tobacco use in Bollywood movies and receptivity to tobacco promotional activities were both independently associated with ever tobacco use among adolescents in India, with ORs being similar to the studies of adolescents elsewhere.

  • Tobacco
  • adolescent
  • smoking
  • advertising
  • marketing
  • advertising and promotion
  • tobacco products

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  • Funding This research was funded by a grant from Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA (award number 3RO1TW007933-02S1; Monika Arora, principal investigator). Other funders: NIH.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Independent Ethics Committee, Mumbai (; IEC/08/28).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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