Impact of Alcohol

Impact of Alcohol

Adolesc Med 16 (2005) 345 – 370

Smoking in Movies: Impact on
Adolescent Smoking
James D. Sargent, MD
Department of Pediatrics, Dartmouth Medical School, One Medical Center Drive,
Lebanon, NH 03756, USA

‘‘It’s the movies that have really been running things in America ever since they
were invented. They show you what to do, how to do it, when to do it, how to
feel about it, and how to look how you feel about it.’’
Andy Warhol [1a]

Concern about the impact of motion pictures is as old as movies themselves.
The first motion picture camera was invented in 1895. Within 11 years, New
York City passed a local movie censorship law, and by 1921, the governor of New
York State signed a sweeping state censorship law as ‘‘the only way to remedy
what everyone concedes has grown to be a very great evil.’’ By 1934, the possibility of federal censorship prompted movie distributors to adopt and enforce
the Hays Production Code, voluntary movie production guidelines that restricted
how sex and violence could be portrayed. The Hays Production Code was
abolished in 1968 and was replaced with the modern rating system, which continues to rate movies on sex, language, and violence.
Despite widespread concern, there is little evidence to support a direct effect
of movies on the behaviors for which movies are rated. Much of the evidence
that links seeing media violence to aggression focuses on television and video
game violence [1–6]. The same can be said about the few published studies on
the relation between media exposure and human sexual behavior—the focus
mainly has been on television [7,8]. In contrast, an extensive literature is
developing on the relation between seeing movie depictions of smoking and the
adoption of smoking, a behavioral outcome that has major health implications

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