LEBANON, N.H., Aug. 11 (UPI) -- Movies may be clouding kids' perceptions about smoking -- the more they watch smoking in the movies, the more they try smoking, U.S. researchers say.
Dr. James Sargent at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center in New Hampshire looked at how smoking exposure in movies influenced teens and tweens.
They took a sample of box office hits, coded them for smoking, and then asked kids if they had seen them, Sargent, the study leader, said.
"The more movie smoking that they see, the more likely they are to try smoking," Sargent said in a statement. "If you got rid of that exposure, that would lower youth smoking by about 18 percent."
However, parents can reduce influence by monitoring what their teens see, Sargent advised.
"They have to set limits on how much media their children are allowed to consumer, and movies are a really important part of that consumption," Sargent added.
The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.
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