Media exposure has been found to impact adolescent smoking, although the mechanisms of this relationship have not been thoroughly investigated. Drive for thinness and tobacco advertising receptivity, both shown to be associated with smoking, are two potential mediators.
967 twelfth grade students completed a self-report survey as part of a longitudinal study of biobehavioral predictors of smoking. Exposure to magazines and television, drive for thinness, tobacco advertisement receptivity, and twelfth grade smoking level were the primary variables of interest. Effects of gender, race, BMI, smoking exposure, and perceived physical appearance were controlled for in the model.
Exposure to fashion, entertainment, and gossip magazines had indirect effects on smoking via drive for thinness and tobacco advertisement receptivity. There was a direct effect of health, fitness, and sports magazine reading on smoking. Television watching had no significant effects on smoking.
Adolescents who read fashion, entertainment, and gossip magazines may be more likely to smoke, in part, because of a higher drive for thinness and greater receptivity to cigarette advertisements. Conversely, adolescents reading Health and Fitness magazines may be less likely to smoke. Drive for thinness and tobacco advertising receptivity are thus potential targets for adolescent smoking intervention.