Are video games encouraging children and adolescents towards tobacco addiction? The answer may be yes according to a recent study. In 2015 statistics show that around 42% of the video games marketed have tobacco products featured or show characters engaging in tobacco use, and some experts point out that this may be seen by younger individuals as an encouragement to try these products. Past studies have shown that adolescents between the ages of 12 years old and 17 years old can be highly influenced by what they see on a screen. Kids and teens who see more smoking in movies and video games are typically twice as likely to start smoking and develop a tobacco addiction as those who were exposed the least.
To compound matters and encourage tobacco addiction even more the characters who use tobacco in movies and games tend to be the cool ones or the tough characters. According to Truth Initiative president and CEO Robin Koval “We know video games are much more immersive (than movies) and frequently played by young people. Those who play games spend even more time playing them than (time spent) on social media.” University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health associate professor James Thrasher explained “There would be lots of ways for the tobacco industry or representatives to muck around or pay off for product placement in video games just because the [gaming] industry is more flexible and dynamic than the film industry.” Koval urges parents to monitor their children’s gaming activities and said “One of the things that’s always true is that if you raise awareness with young people as to the fact that you’re being influenced by others, that’s just the first step (because) young people do not like being manipulated. There’s an opportunity for parents and the gaming community itself to make it known that these games are tons of fun to play without having to include smoking in them.”