Western media's influence on Egyptian adolescents' smoking behavior: the mediating role of positive beliefs about smoking.Nicotine Tob Res. 2007 Jan; 9(1):57-64.NT
Western media has been implicated as an adolescent smoking risk factor in numerous Western studies, but little research has investigated that influence on adolescents from developing Arab countries. One such country is Egypt, which has the highest rate of smoking in the Arab world. An estimated 34% of Egyptians are daily smokers, 4% of whom are under the age 15 years and 0.6% of whom are under the age 10. The present study investigated the association between exposure and receptivity to Western media, positive beliefs about smoking, and Egyptian adolescents' smoking behavior. A school-based cross-sectional survey of 1,930 Egyptian adolescents in 7th, 9th, and 12th grades, from randomly selected schools in Alexandria, Egypt, was conducted in May 2003. Self-reported smoking behaviors, demographics, psychosocial factors, and exposure to Western and pro-tobacco media were assessed. Controlling for demographics, psychosocial smoking risk factors, and pro-tobacco media exposure, we found that Western media exposure was positively associated with ever-smoking across genders and 30-day smoking among adolescent males only. Positive beliefs about smoking partially mediated this association among ever-smokers and completely mediated it among 30-day male smokers. The results indicate that the influence of Western media on Egyptian adolescents' smoking behavior is at least partially mediated by its influence in increasing adolescents' positive beliefs about smoking and consequently their smoking behavior. Regulation of the glamorization of smoking behavior in Western media and correction of the erroneous perception of positive beliefs about smoking among adolescents is necessary to help curb the rising smoking epidemic in Egypt.