Film makers glamorise smoking - health experts
Scientists say films that glamorise smoking such as Pulp Fiction are bad for children's health.
They found that the more smoking youngsters see in films, the more likely they are to take up the habit.
The study of almost 5,000 children, published in this week's British Medical Journal, provides new evidence that depictions of smoking in films influence adolescents to smoke.
Professor James Sargent of Dartford Medical School in Lebanon, USA, surveyed 4,919 American children aged 9-15 years about the amount of smoking they had seen in films and whether they had ever tried smoking.
He found that the likelihood of ever trying cigarettes increased with higher exposure to smoking in films, even when other factors linked with adolescent smoking were taken into account.
Among students who had watched films with 50 or fewer occurrences of smoking, only 4.9% had ever tried smoking. Of those who had watched films with more than 150 occurrences of smoking, 31.5% had tried smoking.
The results indicate that exposure to tobacco in films is "pervasive," Prof Sargent said.
Such exposure is associated with trying smoking, which supports the hypothesis that films have a role in the initiation of smoking, he concluded.
In an accompanying editorial, Professor Stanton Glantz of the University of California, said it is time for the entertainment industry to accept responsibility for its actions and "stop serving the interests of tobacco companies".
He has launched a campaign called "Smoke Free Movies" which challenges Hollywood to take steps to make their films smoke free, such as running strong anti-tobacco advertisements before films containing smoking scenes.