Seeing Tobacco Ads Increases Teens’ Risk of Starting to Smoke

The number of tobacco ads preteens and teens are exposed to influences their risk of starting to smoke, a new study suggests. Researchers found for every 10 tobacco ads that they see, their risk of starting to smoke increases by almost 40 percent.

In addition, every 10 tobacco ads preteens and teens see raises their risk of becoming a daily smoker by 30 percent, according to HealthDay. The German researchers studied more than 1,300 nonsmokers ages 10 to 15. They asked the children how often they had seen particular tobacco ads, and questioned them about their smoking behavior at the beginning of the study, and again after 30 months. At the end of this period, one-third said they had tried smoking and 10 percent said they had smoked in the previous month.

Five percent of participants said they smoked more than 100 cigarettes, and were classified as “established” smokers; the study found a similar percentage said they smoked daily. Teens who saw the most tobacco ads—11 to 55—during the study period were about twice as likely to become established smokers and daily smokers, compared with those who saw the fewest.

The researchers say their study supports the total ban on tobacco advertising advocated by the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. “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 the journal BMJ Open.

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