In 2012, the U.S. Surgeon General concluded that young people’s exposure to smoking depictions in movies can cause smoking initiation.
Participants in the 2012 Youth Insights Survey were asked how often they watched movies and movies that are R-rated, as well as whether any smoking they had seen on TV, movies or the internet in the past month made smoking seem more or less attractive to them.
Participants in the 2012 YIS were asked how often they watched movies and movies that are R-rated, as well as whether any smoking they had seen on TV, movies or the internet in the past month made smoking seem more or less attractive to them. Responses were examined by smoking status (those who had never smoked, compared with current smokers [smoked at least monthly] and ex [no longer smoked] or experimental [smoked less often than monthly] smokers), susceptibility to smoking (non-susceptible never smokers [who said they would ‘definitely not’ accept a cigarette offered by their best friend or smoke a cigarette during the next 12 months], compared with susceptible never smokers), ethnicity, and gender. When looking at the differences by ethnicity and gender we have controlled for smoking status. This means that we take to account whether or not a respondent smokes, to ensure that any differences found are not in fact due to the respondent’s own smoking status. Only those group differences which were statistically significant (p<.05) are reported.
Further analyses were undertaken to examine changes over time in frequency of movie and R-rated movie viewing as these questions were also asked in 2010.
- Almost two-thirds of young people watch movies at least once a week, and more than one-in-three watch R-rated movies at least once a week.
- Those most likely to frequently watch movies and R-rated movies were current smokers and students of Māori ethnicity. Among those who had never smoked, susceptible never-smokers more frequently watched R-rated movies than non-susceptible never-smokers.
- Of those young people who had seen onscreen depictions of smoking in the past month, a small minority (7%) thought this made smoking seem more attractive. Current smokers were more likely to think this than those who infrequently/no longer or never smoked.