Teens likely to copy film stars who smoke

Teenagers may be more likely to take up smoking should they see film stars enjoying cigarettes on-screen, new research has suggested. Carried out by investigators at the University of Bristol, the findings showed 15-year-olds who watched the most movies depicting the habit were 73 per cent more likely to take a drag themselves when compared to peers exposed to fewer such flicks.

In addition, the study revealed youngsters who viewed a high number of these motion pictures were almost 50 per cent more likely to be a current smoker.

The research could result in filmmakers and regulators reviewing their position when it comes to age ratings for films appearing to glamourise tobacco use.

Dr Andrea Waylen from the School of Oral and Dental Sciences at the institution - which has roots going back to the 1800s - said: "More than half the films shown in the UK that contain smoking are rated UK15 or below, so children and young teenagers are clearly exposed."

Chartered Psychologist Professor Peter Hajek commented: "The current trend to not only strip smoking of any glamour, but to denormalise it, is very likely contributing to lowering smoking prevalence by encouraging smokers to quit and, even more importantly, by making smoking less attractive to potential new recruits. 

"Eliminating smoking in films is an important part of this trend."