Taking part in team sports lowers the odds of children smoking, but it can't compete with the powerful influence of smoking in movies, a new study finds.
Movies can shape popular taste and behavior, from clothing to cultural habits; other studies have found that seeing smoking in movies increases the chances that children will light up. As many as 30 percent to 50 percent of adolescent smokers attribute their smoking to seeing it in films, researchers say.
"Team sports is clearly protective to prevent youth from smoking," said lead researcher Anna M. Adachi-Mejia, a research assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the Hood Center for Children and Families, at Dartmouth Medical School in Lebanon, N.H.
But movies can undo that positive effect, Adachi-Mejia said. "Parents need to be aware of the need to minimize their child's exposure to movie smoking," she said. "So even if their child plays sports, that's not enough."
The report is published in the July issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.