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Tobacco Ads Spark Teen Smoking, Study Finds

Tobacco Ads Spark Teen Smoking, Study Finds

WEDNESDAY, June 12 (HealthDay News) -- The more tobacco advertising teenagers see, the more likely they are to start smoking, according to a new study.

Every 10 tobacco ads that teens view increases their risk of starting to smoke by nearly 40 percent and boosts their chances of becoming a daily smoker by 30 percent, the German researchers found.

The findings, published online in the journal BMJ Open, support the total ban on tobacco advertising advocated by the World Health Organization, said Dr. Matthis Morgenstern, of the Institute for Therapy and Health Research in Kiel and colleagues.

"Data from this study support this measure, because only exposure to tobacco advertisements predicted smoking initiation, which cannot be attributed to a general receptiveness to marketing," they wrote in a journal news release.

For the study, researchers looked at more than 1,300 nonsmokers, aged 10 to 15, in Germany. Their exposure to tobacco ads and subsequent smoking behavior was monitored for 30 months.

At the end of the 30 months, one-third of the youngsters admitted to trying smoking and 10 percent said they had smoked within the previous month, according to the study.

Five percent said they had smoked more than 100 cigarettes and were classified as established smokers, while a similar percentage said they now smoked every day. One-third of the daily smokers were 14 or younger and one-quarter were 16 or older.

Youngsters who saw the most tobacco ads (11 to 55) during the 30 months were about twice as likely to become established smokers and daily smokers compared to those who saw the fewest ads.

For each additional 10 tobacco ads they saw, teens were 38 percent more likely to become established smokers and 30 percent more likely to become daily smokers. After taking into account other major smoking risk factors, the researchers concluded that the overall risk of becoming an established smoker was 3 percent to 7 percent greater, and the risk of becoming a daily smoker was 3 percent to 6 percent greater, depending on how many tobacco ads a teen had seen.

Although the study found an association between tobacco ads and the likelihood of smoking, it did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship.

More information

The American Lung Association explains how to prevent children and teens from smoking.

SOURCE: BMJ Open, news release, June 12, 2013

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