Bedroom TVs and 18 cert films linked to increase in teenage smoke risk

In collaboration with the Press Association

A new study suggests that young people who watch television alone could be more likely to take up smoking.

Students between the ages of 12 and 14 were found to be 2.7 times more likely to smoke if they were allowed to watch 18 certificate films alone in their bedrooms.

The researchers from the University of North Carolina explained that in 2002, smoking was seen in 90 per cent of all films with a parental guidance certificate.

Familiarity with celebrities smoking was thought to encourage the practise in young people. Jean King, director of tobacco control at Cancer Research UK, said: "Actors who smoke, or who play the role of smokers, can encourage young people to experiment and think that smoking is an attractive and mature thing to do. In fact smoking is a deadly addiction and worryingly 14 per cent of 11 year olds and 62 per cent of 15 year olds say they have experimented with cigarettes.

"Many young people are hooked after only briefly experimenting with smoking, without thinking about the immediate health effects it has on their body and even less so about their long-term increase in cancer risk." In conclusion the report recommended: "The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends that parents prevent children from viewing movies intended for mature audiences and keep televisions out of children's bedrooms."

The report explains that a low level of parental supervision and high exposure to televised smoking increases children's vulnerability to smoking.