Kids and teenagers are impressionable. Authors of a new study argue that if adolescents see actors smoking, they will want to try smoking. This new study was published in the recent issue of Pediatrics. The authors of the study suggest movies that show actors smoking should get an R rating because it would reduce the number of children and teens who watch those movies and thereby reduce the number of kids/teens who begin smoking by 18%.
James D. Sargent, M.D., a cancer-prevention specialist and professor of pediatrics at Dartmouth Medical School, in Lebanon, N.H. stated “The movie industry should treat smoking like it treats profanity and sex and violence.”
In a two-year study 5,000 children from the ages of 10-14 were surveyed to see if they had tried smoking and the movies they’d watched. Researchers James D. Sargent, Susanne Tanski, and Mike Stoolmiller looked specifically at rated pg-13 movies which account for nearly two-thirds of the smoking scenes adolescents see in films.
What they discovered was that for every 500 smoking scenes an adolescent saw in a pg-13 movie; the child was 49% more likely to try smoking cigarettes. For R rated films they were 33% more likely to try smoking.
Even though this study alone cannot prove that watching these movies are the reason kids begin to smoke it does show that it contributes to the reason that some of them do.
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) countered their argument by stating that the “movie industry seeks to balance the “serious health problem” of teen smoking against “freedom of expression and speech and storytelling.” Howard Gantman, the MPAA’s vice president of corporate communications went on to add that “The rating system does not tell filmmakers what to put in their films; it merely gives information about the level of content in each film and describes the elements that reach the level of the rating, so that parents can make choices for their children.”
What do you think? Should movies with actors smoking be rated R? Let us know what you think and comment below.
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