Smoking in movies encourages teens to take up the habit regardless of whether the smoker is a 'good guy' or 'bad guy', a new research has revealed.
"Previous studies have confirmed a link between smoking in movies and the initiation of smoking by adolescents, and we wanted to dig deeper into the data to see if the type of character who is smoking matters.
Is it 'good guys' or 'bad guys' that have more of an influence?" said Susanne Tanski, the lead author on the study, and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Dartmouth Medical School.
"It's true that 'bad guys' are more often smokers in the movies, but there really are not that many 'bad guys' compared to 'good guys'.
Episode for episode, youth who saw negative character smoking were more likely to start smoking, but since overall there is so much more exposure to 'good guy' smoking, the net effect is similar," Tanski added.
The researchers also found that low-risk teens, based on sensation-seeking behavior, are more strongly influenced by 'bad guy' movie smoking.
"This suggests that it's alluring for 'good' kids to emulate the 'bad' characters on the movie screen," Tanksi said.
The study has been published in the July 2009 issue of the journal Pediatrics.