-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, April 4, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Scenes of cigarette
use have become less common on prime-time television shows, and it
may be linked to reduced smoking rates in the United States, a new
Researchers from the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the
University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia looked at cigarette use
depicted in more than 1,800 hours of popular U.S. prime-time dramas
broadcast between 1955 and 2010. They also looked at smoking rates
among adults during that period.
Scenes involving cigarette use on such shows fell from nearly
five scenes per hour of programming (excluding commercials) in 1961
to about 0.3 scenes per hour in 2010, according to the study
published online April 3 in the journal
After taking cigarette prices and other factors into account,
the researchers concluded that one less depiction of smoking per
hour over two years of prime-time programming was associated with
an overall drop of almost two packs of cigarettes (38.5 cigarettes)
a year for every adult.
This impact of fewer smoking scenes in prime-time shows is
significant and half as large as the impact of higher cigarette
prices, according to the researchers.
However, they said the fact that cigarette use is still shown on
TV shows may have prevented an even faster decline in rates of
smoking, which is the leading cause of preventable death in the
United States, according to a journal news release.
The new findings add to previous research showing that seeing
other people smoke prompts cigarette cravings in adult smokers, the
study authors said. Further research is needed to learn more about
how depictions of smoking in other media, such as cable TV and
YouTube, affect smoking rates, they concluded.
The American Cancer Society offers a
guide to quitting smoking.
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