Bollywood films promote smoking among children

NEW DELHI: Adolescents who watch Bollywood stars light up or use other tobacco products on screen are more likely to be tobacco users, says a new study.

“The odds of using tobacco once or more in a lifetime among students who were highly exposed to tobacco use occurrences in Bollywood films were more than twice as compared to those with low exposure,” says the study published online in the British Medical Journal.

A sample of 3956 students aged between 12-16 years were surveyed from 12 schools selected randomly across New Delhi in the year 2009 for the study titled “Tobacco use in Bollywood movies, tobacco promotional activities and their association with tobacco use among Indian adolescents.”

“Adolescents in this study had seen a mean of 162 tobacco use occurrences from the 59 films that were coded. Results also suggest that boys are much more exposed than girls,” says Dr Monika Arora, Head, Health Promotion and Tobacco Control, Public Health Foundation of India and lead author of the study.

The study assessed the teenagers’ current and ever tobacco use status, receptivity to tobacco promotions and exposure to tobacco use in movies.

“This is the first systematic study in India to show an association between tobacco use depiction in Bollywood films and tobacco use among adolescents, as a well-established content analysis method has been adopted in this research,” says Dr Gaurang Nazar, of HRIDAY who co-authored the study.

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