This R01 application aims to strengthen capacity for locally-relevant research and policy in the area of movie smoking. The National Cancer Institute concluded that movie smoking is one cause of youth smoking in 2008. Since then, directives aimed at reducing youth exposure to movie smoking have been promulgated as part of the implementation guidelines for Article 13 of the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The proposal pairs researchers who developed the science to demonstrate a causal link between movies and smoking with key scientists in Argentina and Mexico who have begun studying the same link in their respective countries, with the overarching aim of enhancing research on movie and marketing risk factors for youth smoking. Notably, we involve another researcher from Germany who has successfully completed a similar study in 6 European Union (EU) countries. In partnership with our Latin American colleagues, we will adapt the EU protocols for content coding domestic movies and surveying young adolescents to test a novel hypothesis-that smoking by Latino characters in domestic films is more potent than in foreign produced films (in which characters are mostly non-Latino). Additionally, the team will assess the prevalence of adolescent ownership of tobacco branded merchandise (e.g., t-shirts and collectable packs) to determine if receptivity to these products acts in synergy with movie exposures.
The aims of the study are to: 1) develop the capacity for researchers to track tobacco use and brand placement in the domestic film market (which accounts for about 10% of movies viewed in each country);2) to develop the capacity for researchers to conduct longitudinal school-based surveys of adolescents to determine the importance of media and marketing risk factors in promoting smoking;and 3) to identify leverage points for policy development and for research dissemination efforts that aim to reduce media and marketing exposures.
Aim 2 involves fielding a two-wave school-based survey of young adolescents (12 or 13 at baseline) in both countries, in which exposure is assessed to popular contemporary movies released in the past 10 years. The movie sample frame will be enriched with domestic movies, in order to test the domestic vs. foreign movie influence hypothesis. We will also assess the prevalence of ownership of tobacco branded merchandise, including the types of articles, the brand, and where it is displayed. We will determine whether the branded merchandise is being worn in the school setting and how often such articles are seen by others. Finally, we will conduct a diagnosis of the structure, financing and policy-making processes of the film industry in each country and analyze the results with a consultant who was instrumental in developing the Smoke Free Movies campaign, a successful campaign to reduce youth exposure to movies in the U.S. In combination with country-specific research results, these efforts aim to develop locally-relevant approaches for reducing youth exposure to tobacco content in films. Thus, this proposal addresses very significant risk factors for youth smoking in these countries and offers unique and innovative approaches to assessing such exposures, as well as the ability to test novel hypotheses about how race and ethnicity of movie characters and branded merchandise might modify the strength of the association between exposure to movie smoking and youth smoking.

Public Health Relevance

This proposal seeks to better understand the extent to which exposure to movie smoking and branded tobacco promotional items increased risk for smoking among Mexican and Argentine adolescents. We will assess exposure to smoking in domestic and foreign movies separately and hypothesize that domestic movies offer stronger prompts to smoke because the characters are ethnically similar to the adolescents there. The study will build capacity for such research and begin to formulate culturally relevant policies to control these important risk factors.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Fogarty International Center (FIC)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZCA1-SRLB-Y (M1))
Program Officer
Said, Maria
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Dartmouth College
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Mejia, Raul; Pérez, Adriana; Peña, Lorena et al. (2017) Smoking in Movies and Adolescent Smoking Initiation: A Longitudinal Study among Argentinian Adolescents. J Pediatr 180:222-228
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