Are Ads Killing Our Kids?

We knew it all along.  Ads do lead people to do things and now a new study has proved that cigarette ads do, indeed, lead teens to smoke.

Movies feature fewer people smoking these days than in the past, and while you still don't see an actor walk into a party or restaurant and the first thing they do is light up a cigarette, but the cigarettes are still there, and they're still considered cool.

My own mom began smoking when she was 11 (and this was back in the 1930s) because her best friend did, and while my mom was able to quit in her 70s, her friend went on smoking -- and hacking, even through emphysema -- until she died in her mid-80's.

I was lucky.  The smell of smoke always filled our house and I couldn't stand it, or the sight of all those ashtrays (though my mom was a clean smoker, and emptied them almost as quickly as they were filled).  As a result, I've chosen never to smoke and am probably the only living person the planet who has never held a cigarette to her lips (though, I confess, I did puff on a joint).

Researchers followed over 1300 people from 10 to 15 who lived in Germany for 30 months as they were exposed to tobacco ads on TV (which you can no longer see in this country) and other places.  At the end of the period, one third of the participants reported they had smoked with 10% saying they had done it last month.  Five percent smoked over 100 cigarettes, categorizing them as established smokers, with five percent of them becoming everyday smokers. The scariest part of all?  One-third of this group was 14 or younger and a quarter over 16, according to a story by Cheri Cheng.

And another alarming statistic: TV commercials may spur junk food habits in kids. reports that the types of TV shows families watch may very well influence the amount of junk food their preschoolers eat.

"Researchers found that children in homes where parents watch regular TV with commercials had higher levels of junk food consumption and were more likely to have distorted views about healthy eating than children in homes where parents watched commercial-free digitally recorded TV or other types of media without food advertising," the Web site noted.

With one in three children overweight or obese in this country, maybe we should think about this.


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