News Wednesday January 19, 2011

Movies make quitting smoking harder

Watching movies that feature prominent smoking scenes could make it harder to quit smoking.

Researchers reporting in the Journal of Neuroscience did brain scans on both smokers, and non-smokers, while they watched Ridley Scott’s 2003 movie Matchstick Men.

The movie was selected because it features smoking scenes, but no scenes of sex, violence or alcohol use which could have affected the results. When characters on the screen smoked, there was a change in the smokers’ brain activity that closely resembled what happened when they themselves lit up a cigarette.

The researchers say that movies like Matchstick Men actually ignite cravings in smokers. This means that people who are staying in and watching a film, instead of going out and allowing themselves to ‘socially smoke’, could be just as likely to light up.

Last year the results of a different study suggested that when actors smoke in films, teenagers are likely to want to smoke afterwards.

Giving up smoking

Around 5 million people die as a result of smoking each year. Fatal health problems that result from smoking include lung cancer, strokes and coronary artery disease.

The vast majority of smokers want to give up smoking because of personal health concerns; concerns about their families’ health; and the expensive cost of maintaining a smoking habit. But the combination of nicotine addiction and the psychological habit-forming nature of smoking can make it extremely difficult to quit. Consult your doctor if you would like to discuss treatments that may help you to give up your smoking habit.

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