Smoking Scenes Trigger Smokers And Former Smokers!
Sigourney Weaver in AvatarAccording to a recent study conducted at Dartmouth University and published in the January 19th issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, just seeing someone smoke on the Big Screen can cause smokers to crave a cigarette. The study participants, unaware the study was about smoking, showed increased brain activity when they viewed smoking scenes. The increased activity corresponded to the hand they use to smoke. Smoking is a motor skill that often occurs automatically for regular smokers. These results suggest it may make it more difficult to avoid smoking for those trying to quit or recent quitters.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned that exposure to onscreen smoking in movies makes adolescents more likely to smoke. Their 2010 report states, about half of popular movies still contain tobacco imagery, including 54 percent of those rated PG-13. The National Cancer Institute states the amount of smoking kids see on screen is a predictor of whether they will start smoking as teens, and “this exposure causes kids to smoke.” The Harvard School of Public Health has made a recommendation that studios produce movies for children and teens without smoking scenes. Interestingly, twenty-one films nominated for this year’s Academy Awards include smoking. More than 40% of them are rated PG or PG-13.
According to Scott Heuttel, PhD, of Duke University, “this finding builds upon the growing body of evidence that addiction may be reinforced not just by drugs themselves, but by images and experiences associated with those drugs.” The complete study can be found at http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-01-smokers.html.
It is happening on the Small Screen also. A review of television shows popular with young people suggests broadcasters aren’t doing a good job filtering tobacco use images. The review, published in the journal, Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, found that 40% shows such as: Family Guy, Gossip Girl, Heroes and the Simpsons, contained at least one depiction of tobacco use. Eighty-nine percent of those depictions were of cigarettes. According to the Los Angeles Times the shows reviewed, “were on for an average of 38 minutes per day. Considering the average 8-18 year old watches TV about 3 hours and 20 minutes per day, these shows accounted for only 19% of their total viewing. So the total exposure to tobacco images is certainly higher.”
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