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Study: More Smoking In Kids' Flicks

The silver screen may look a little hazy with cigarette smoke, especially in kids' films, according to a new study.

The study comes from pediatrician James Sargent, M.D., and colleagues at Dartmouth Medical School. They watched the top 100 box office hits for each year from 1996-2004 and counted on-screen tobacco "occurrences," which include smoking, signage, and tobacco products.

In 2004's top films, there were more tobacco occurrences in youth-oriented movies than in R-rated movies. Of nearly 700 tobacco occurrences in 2004's top box office hits, about 400 were seen in youth-oriented movies, the study shows.

Tobacco imagery in top movies generally declined from 1996-2004. But that trend was mainly seen in R-rated films, according to the report.

"Although this downward trend in movie smoking is encouraging, it is important to remember that youths continue to be exposed to tobacco use in most of the movies they see," write Sargent and colleagues.

On-screen smoking may make smoking seem normal or glamorous, especially if it's done by stars that young people admire, the researchers note. They add that the movie industry is shifting away from R ratings and towards ratings for a younger audience.

However, the study doesn't mention whether smoking was portrayed in a favorable light.

The report was funded by the National Cancer Institute and the American Legacy Foundation, which backs nonsmoking for youths.

SOURCES: American Legacy Foundation: "Trends in Movie Tobacco Use: 1996-2004." News release, Dartmouth College.

By Miranda Hitti
Reviewed By Louise Chang, M.D.© 2006, WebMD Inc. All rights reserved

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