To assess the association between exposure to movie smoking and established adolescent smoking.
Longitudinal survey of a representative US adolescent sample.
Adolescents were surveyed by telephone in their homes.
Sixty-five hundred twenty-two US adolescents aged 10 to 14 years at baseline, resurveyed at 8 months (8M) (n = 5503), 16 months (16M) (n = 5019), and 24 months (24M) (n = 4575).
Exposure to smoking in 532 box-office hits released in the 5 years prior to the baseline survey.
Established smoking (having smoked more than 100 cigarettes during lifetime).
Of 108 incident established smokers with data at the 24M survey, 85% were current (30-day smokers) and 83% endorsed at least 1 addiction symptom. Established smoking incidence was 7.4, 15.8, and 19.7 per 1000 person-years of observation for the baseline-to-8M, 8M-to-16M, and 16M-to-24M observation periods, respectively. In a multivariate survival model, risk of established smoking was predicted by baseline exposure to smoking in movies with an adjusted overall hazard ratio of 2.04 (95% confidence interval, 1.01-4.12) for teens in the 95th percentile of movie-smoking exposure compared with the 5th percentile. This effect was independent of age; parent, sibling, or friend smoking; and sensation seeking. Teens low on sensation seeking were more responsive to the movie-smoking effect (hazard ratio, 12.7; 95% confidence interval, 2.0-80.6) compared with teens who were high on sensation seeking (hazard ratio, 1.01; 95% confidence interval, 0.4-2.6).
In this national US adolescent sample, exposure to smoking in movies predicted risk of becoming an established smoker, an outcome linked with adult dependent smoking and its associated morbidity and mortality.