Cigarettes in movies seen to cause teen smoking

Thu Aug 21, 2008 3:27pm EDT
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By Julie Steenhuysen

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Tobacco promotions and depictions of smoking in movies cause teenagers to start smoking, according to a sweeping report on tobacco in the media released on Thursday.

The report by the National Cancer Institute found the tobacco industry spent more than $13 billion on smoking-related advertising and promotion in 2005. These efforts boosted overall tobacco use, contradicting industry claims that they are intended to build brand loyalty.

"This is the first government report to present definitive conclusions that, number one, tobacco advertising and promotion are causally related to increased tobacco use in the population," said Dr. Ronald Davis, senior scientific editor of the report and past president of the American Medical Association.

"And, number two, (it shows) that depictions of smoking in movies is causally related to youth smoking initiation," Davis told a news conference.

The report, which examined more than 1,000 scientific studies on how the media influences tobacco use, comes at a time when efforts to keep young Americans from picking up cigarettes have stalled.

Tobacco use remains the single-largest cause of preventable death in the United States, accounting for more than 400,000 premature deaths each year.

Smoking is down from 42 percent of U.S. adults in 1965 to 21 percent in 2006. Still, more than 4,000 young people smoke their first cigarette each day, and another 1,000 become regular smokers. Nearly 90 percent of adult smokers began smoking while in their teens.

SMOKING IN MOVIES   Continued...

<p>A model smokes backstage before the start of the Jenni Kayne fall fashion show during New York Fashion Week February 7, 2007. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>