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Comparing the Effects of Entertainment Media and Tobacco Marketing on Youth Smoking
  1. James Sargent1,
  2. Jennifer Gibson1,
  3. Todd Heatherton2
  1. 1 Dartmouth Medical School, United States;
  2. 2 Psychology and Brain Sciences, United States
  1. E-mail: james.d.sargent{at}


Objectives: To examine the concurrent effects of exposure to movie smoking and tobacco marketing receptivity on adolescent smoking onset and progression.

Methods: Cross sectional study of 4524 Northern New England adolescents aged 10-14 in 1999 with longitudinal follow up of 2603 baseline never smokers. Cross-sectional outcomes included ever tried smoking and higher level of lifetime smoking among 784 experimenters. The longitudinal outcome was onset of smoking among baseline never smokers 2 years later. Movie smoking exposure was modeled as four population quartiles (Q), tobacco marketing receptivity included two levels--having a favorite tobacco ad and wanting/owning tobacco promotional items. All analyses controlled for sociodemographics, other social influences, personality characteristics of the adolescent and parenting style.

Results: In the full cross-sectional sample, 17.5% had tried smoking; both exposure to movie smoking and receptivity to tobacco marketing were associated with tried smoking. Among experimental smokers, the majority (64%) were receptive to tobacco marketing, which had a multivariate association with higher level of lifetime smoking (movie smoking did not). In the longitudinal study some 9.5% of baseline never smokers tried smoking at follow up. Fewer never smokers (18.5%) were receptive to tobacco marketing. Movie smoking had a multivariate association with trying smoking (receptivity to tobacco marketing did not).

Conclusions: The results suggest separate roles for entertainment media and tobacco marketing on adolescent smoking. Both exposures deserve equal emphasis from a policy standpoint.

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