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Researchers Urge Smoking in Movies to Garner 'R' Rating

Researchers Urge Smoking in Movies to Garner 'R' Rating 29752
Tweens and teenagers are so vulnerable to messages they receive in movies that any film that depicts a character smoking should automatically earn an "R" rating, a new study suggests.  CNN.com has more:

PG-13 films account for nearly two-thirds of the smoking scenes adolescents see on the big screen, according to the two-year study, which surveyed roughly 5,000 children ages 10 to 14 about the movies they'd seen and whether they'd ever tried a cigarette.

Smoking in PG-13 films -- including background shots and other passing instances -- was just as strongly linked with real-world experimentation as the smoking in R-rated films. For every 500 smoking scenes a child saw in PG-13 movies, his or her likelihood of trying cigarettes increased by 49%. The comparable figure for R-rated movies was 33%, a statistically negligible difference.

Assigning an R rating to all movies portraying smoking would lower the proportion of kids who try cigarettes at this age by 18%, the authors estimate. (Children under 17 must be accompanied by an adult to buy a ticket for an R-rated movie.)

"The movie industry [should] treat smoking like it treats profanity and sex and violence," says lead author Dr. James D. Sargent, a cancer-prevention specialist and professor of pediatrics at Dartmouth Medical School, in Lebanon, New Hampshire. "If saying the 'F' word twice gets you an R rating, certainly something as important as smoking should get you an R rating."

Image: Teenagers at the movies, via Shutterstock.

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