Many of these adolescents will be lured to cigarettes by advertisements and movies that feature sophisticated models and actors, suggesting that smoking is a glamorous, grown-up activity. However, teens who are savvier about the motives and methods of advertisers may be less inclined to take to cigarettes, a University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine study indicates.
Teens with above-average smoking media literacy (SML) are nearly half as likely to smoke as their less media-literate peers, according to the lead study in the current issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health. The results not only suggest that SML training could be an effective intervention to decrease teen smoking, but they also provide some of the first quantitative evidence linking SML to smoking.
"Many factors that influence a teen's decision to smoke – like peer influence, parental smoking and risk-seeking tendency – are difficult to change," said the study's lead author, Brian Primack, M.D., Ed.M., assistant professor in the School of Medicine's division of general internal medicine. "However, media literacy, which can be taught, may be a valuable tool in efforts to discourage teens from smoking."
Earlier research by Dr. Primack and his colleagues established the reliability and validity of the scale used to measure SML. In that work, more than 1,200 suburban Pittsburgh high school students were assigned SML scores of 1 to 10 based on their responses to an 18-item survey in which they agreed or disagreed with statements such as, "Advertisements usually leave out a lot of important information" and "Movie scenes with smoking in them are made very carefully." The higher their scores, the higher their SML.
In the current study, Dr. Primack and his colleagues conducted further analysis, more completely quantifying the relationship between SML and smoking behavior. They found that the median SML score of all of the survey participants was 6.8, and students with scores above the median were half as likely to smoke or to be susceptible to future smoking than those below the median, even after controlling for over a dozen demographic, environmental and intrinsic risk factors for smoking.
The analysis suggests that even minor intervention may be able to influence behavior. According to survey data, decrease in an SML score of just one point corresponded with a 30 percent increase in a student's likelihood to smoke or be susceptible to smoking.
These findings hold promise for schools and other community organizations searching to implement effective tobacco control programs that are geared especially to teenage audiences. Many of the programs currently in use tend to rely heavily on negative messages and reprimands, which often fail to achieve the intended goal. Media literacy training could be more useful in decreasing smoking rates, the University of Pittsburgh study suggests. Even schools without the resources necessary to sustain a full media literacy program in their curricula could find the information obtained through the study helpful, the researchers say.
These results may encourage research into the relationship between media literacy and other harmful health behaviors, Dr. Primack added.
"Research has linked media exposure to eating behaviors, alcohol abuse, social violence and sexual behavior. Perhaps media literacy will turn out to be valuable in addressing these health-related areas as well," he said.
While this study provides compelling evidence of the potential of media literacy training as a tobacco control intervention, further research on the topic is necessary, Dr. Primack notes. For example, the student population surveyed in this study was largely homogeneous in terms of race and socioeconomic status, so the results will need to be confirmed among more diverse groups. Also, a longitudinal study tracking the relationship between SML scores and smoking initiation would help to shed light on the decision-making process of teen smokers.
Kelli McElhinny | EurekAlert!
Drone vs. truck deliveries: Which create less carbon pollution?
31.05.2017 | University of Washington
New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
27.06.2017 | Earth Sciences
27.06.2017 | Earth Sciences
27.06.2017 | Life Sciences