• Adolescent;
  • ethnicity;
  • movies;
  • race;
  • smoking;
  • socio-economic status



This study assesses how race/ethnicity and socio-economic status modify the relationship between exposure to movie smoking and having tried smoking in adolescents.


Data come from a cross-sectional telephone survey and were analyzed using logistic regression models. A respondent reporting ever having tried smoking was regressed on exposure to movie smoking, race, socio-economic status, the interactions of these variables and family and background characteristics.


National sample of US adolescents.


A total of 3653 respondents aged 13–18 years.


Outcome was if subjects reported ever having tried smoking. Movie smoking exposure was assessed through respondents' reporting having watched a set of movie titles, which were coded for smoking instances.


The proportion having tried smoking was lower for blacks (32%) compared to Hispanics (41%) and whites (38%). The relationship between movie smoking and having tried smoking varied by race/ethnicity. Among whites and Hispanics exposure to movie smoking positively predicted smoking behavior, but movie smoking had no impact on blacks. Socio-economic status further modified the relation among whites; high socio-economic status white adolescents were more susceptible to movie smoking than low socio-economic status white adolescents.


Exposure to movie smoking is not experienced uniformly as a risk factor for having ever tried smoking among US adolescents. Whites and Hispanics are more likely to try smoking as a function of increased exposure to movie smoking. In addition, higher socio-economic status increases susceptibility to movie smoking among whites. Youth with fewer risk factors may be more influenced by media messages on smoking.