OBJECTIVE. Movie smoking exposure is a strong predictor of smoking initiation by adolescents; however, we do not know whether it is a long-term predictor of established smoking. We conducted a prospective study to determine whether movie smoking exposure during early adolescence predicts established smoking in older teens and young adults.

DESIGN. We assessed movie smoking exposure and smoking status through a written school-based survey in 1999, when participants were 10 to 14 years of age. We enrolled 73% (n = 2603) of those who had never tried smoking in a follow-up study. In 2006–2007, we conducted telephone interviews with 69% (n = 1791) of the cohort to ascertain current smoking status. The primary outcome was established smoking, defined as having smoked >100 cigarettes. Mean age at follow-up was 18.7 years.

RESULTS. Thirteen percent (n = 235) progressed from never smoking to established smoking during the follow-up period. Eighty-nine percent (n = 209) of established smokers smoked during the 30 days before the survey. Even after controlling for a wide range of baseline characteristics, the relative risk for established smoking increased by one third with each successive quartile of movie smoking exposure. Those in the highest quartile for baseline movie smoking exposure were twice as likely to be established smokers at follow-up compared with those in the lowest quartile.

CONCLUSIONS. Movie smoking exposure significantly predicted progression to established smoking in long-term follow-up. We estimate that 34.9% of established smoking in this cohort can be attributed to movie smoking exposure.

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