According to the latest issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, research reports say that the perception of children in the age group of two to six years old were different about cigarettes and alcohol if they are exposed to the same in movies or if parents smoked as well.
When pretending to shop for a social evening, children two to six years old were nearly four times as likely to choose cigarettes if their parents smoked and children who viewed PG-13- or R-rated movies were five times as likely to choose wine or beer.
Most tobacco and alcohol prevention studies target children during adolescence, the peak age for initiating alcohol and tobacco use, but early exposure to these behaviors through family members, community and social events and media may influence attitudes and expectations about alcohol and tobacco use long before children ever consider using these products themselves, according to background information in the article. Young children's attitudes have been difficult to assess because of their limited language skills.
Researchers had used a role-playing scenario to assess preschoolers' attitudes, expectation and perceptions of tobacco and alcohol use and compared their observations with parent surveys on their own alcohol and tobacco use and their children's movie viewing.
The children purchased an average of 17 of the 73 products in the store. Of the 120 children participating in the study, 34 (28.3 percent) bought cigarettes and 74 (61.7 percent) bought alcohol. Children were 3.9 times as likely to buy cigarettes if their parents smoked. Children were three times as likely to choose wine or beer if their parents drank alcohol at least once a month; children who viewed PG-13- or R-rated movies were five times as likely to choose wine or beer.