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Study Confirms that Tobacco Ads Can Lead to Teenage Smoking

Update Date: Jun 13, 2013 03:39 PM EDT

Smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths. It can lead to lung disease, throat cancer, and exacerbate other health conditions. In the past few years, more and more anti-smoking campaigns have developed to discourage smoking, especially in the youth, who are particularly more vulnerable in picking up the habit. Children and teenagers are introduced to smoking via numerous means, such as entertainment and advertisements from cigarette companies. A new study found that these tobacco advertisements did impact a teenager's decision on smoking. The findings confirmed that increased exposure to these advertisements led to a higher chance of smoking.

The researchers followed over 1,300 participants from the ages of 10 to 15 who lived in Germany starting in 2008. The participants were followed for 30 months as the researchers observed their exposure to tobacco advertisements. At the end of the study, one third of the participants admitted that they have tried smoking with 10 percent of the participants stating that they smoked within the past month. The researchers recorded that five percent of the participants smoked over 100 cigarettes, classifying them as established smokers. Nearly five percent of them became everyday smokers, with one third of this group being aged 14 or younger and a quarter of them being over 16.

The researchers calculated that for every 10 advertisements the participants were exposed to, it increased the risk of trying cigarettes by 40 percent. This level of exposure increased the risk of becoming a daily smoker by 30 percent. The researchers also found that exposure ranging from 11 to 55 times within the 30 months doubled the chances of becoming a daily or established smoker. These findings suggest that more needs to be done when it comes to tobacco advertisements. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently suggested that all tobacco advertisements should be banned.

"Data from this study support this [WHO] measure, because only exposure to tobacco advertisements predicted smoking initiation, which cannot be attributed to a general receptiveness to marketing," the authors wrote according to HealthDay.

Although the study did not find a cause and effect relationship, the findings did suggest that the advertisements could be somewhat responsible. The study was published in BMJ Open

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