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EMF Study
(Database last updated on Feb 18, 2020)

ID Number 1020
Study Type Social Sciences
Model Mobile phone use and smoking among teenagers in the UK

In an initial study by Charlton and Bates, a decrease in smoking in teenagers in the 1990's in the UK was hypothesized to be associated with an increase in mobile phone ownership and use. The authors speculated that this may be due to mobile phones offering a surrogate for "... adult style, individuality, sociability, rebellion, peer group bonding, and adult aspiration ..." as well as competition for teenager's limited disposable income. Comments by Invernizzi et al (British Med. J., 2001, 322:616) and Lee (BMJ 2001 Mar 10;322(7286):616-7) stated that data from Italy and Switzerland, respectively, were not consistent with the Charlton hypothesis. In addition, a comment by Jones (British Med. J., 2001, 322:616) suggested the Charlton data were wrongly interpreted. In a recent study using cumulative logistic regression by Koivusilta, Lintonen, and Rimpela in Finnish teenagers, however, report no positive association between smoking and cell phone use. Follow-on studies by Charlton et al reported ownership and usage of mobile phones in 10- and 11- yr old children (n = 351) in Gloucestershire schools, UK was ~45%. Half of the calls made by these children were to family or friends, 26% to let parents know where they were, and 20% were convenience calls (e.g., asking to be picked up).

Findings Not Applicable to Bioeffects
Status Completed With Publication
Principal Investigator University of Manchester, UK -
Funding Agency Private/Instit.
  • Davie, R et al. Telematics Informatics, (2004) 21:359-373
  • Charlton, A et al. British Med. J., (2000) 321:1155-
  • Comments

    The Koivusilta et al study using a cumulative logistic regression model only categorized smoking as 1) never tried or smoked once, 2) smoked at least twice but not smoking daily, or 3) smoking daily. Further, mobile phone use was categorized as 1), not at all, 2) occasionally or daily for less than 1 hour, or 3) daily for at least 1 hour. In addition, the amount of weekly spending money and gender were also incorporated, although these later two variables did not correlate with mobile phone use. Koivusilta et al conclude that differences in social and economic environment of teenagers in Finland and Great Britain may preclude the direct comparison of both studies