On January 5, 2012, Assistant Professor Sonya Dal Cin spoke with Michael Cohen of 1320 WILS’s “Capital City Recap” about her recent study of smoking in movies. Her research, which focused on children between the ages of 10 and 14, indicated that children who have been exposed to greater numbers of smoking scenes in movies are more likely to start smoking at an earlier age than those who don’t encounter as many of these scenes.
In the interview, Assistant Professor Dal Cin explained, “In this particular study, we were looking at how quickly kids might start smoking as a result of what they see in movies…[and] we found that…the ones who had seen more smoking in movies started earlier than the ones who’d seen less.” While movies and television remain a formative social influence across many areas of a child’s development, Dal Cin cited the significance of looking at the influence of smoking, as this particular image has more serious potential consequences for children than other images which may not be as harmful.
Assistant Professor Dal Cin also alluded to a recent study, which found that of the top grossing films in the U.S. over the past decade, about 50 to 60 percent of those movies had a smoking scene in them. While smoking scenes have recently become accounted for in the national movie ratings system, no specific regulations for monitoring smoking in movies exist today.
In highlighting the difference between the influence of movies and television and the influence of other forms of media, such as public service announcements, Dal Cin noted, “I am very much interested in the way that stories impact us because they’re not intended to be persuasive, and so movies fit that bill for me in a way that PSA’s don’t.” Click here to listen to the full audio of the interview.
The study, which appears in the Journal of Health and Communication, was also featured on HealthCanal.com in December.