‘R’ rated movies with smoking stops teens from lighting up
Movies with an “R” rating generally contain adult material, which includes profane language, persistent violence or adult themes among other elements. However, recent research may encourage a push for cigarette smoking to be added to the list of adult material, in an effort to curb teen smoking.
Research from the Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., reveals that an R rating for any film showing smoking could substantially reduce smoking onset in U.S. adolescents. The impact of this was listed in consumer materials accompanying the 2014 Surgeon General’s Report: “The Health Consequences of Smoking: 50 Years of Progress.
According to data from the author of the research, Dr. James Sargent, the reduction in teen smoking would be similar to an R-rated movie with smoking if all parents took an active, authoritative stand with their teenagers against smoking.
“Kids start to smoke before they’re old enough to think about the risks; after starting, they rapidly become addicted and then regret it,” said Dr. Sargent in a statement. “Hollywood plays a role by making smoking look really good. By eliminating smoking in movies marketed to youth, an R rating for smoking would dramatically reduce exposure and lower adolescent smoking by as much as one-fifth,” explained Sargent, professor of pediatrics at The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth.
The study included more than 6,500 U.S. teens and involved a survey conducted at eight-month intervals of movie smoking exposure estimated from more than 530 recent hit movies. Researchers found that adolescent smoking would be reduced by 18 percent if smoking in PG-13 movies was largely eliminated. In comparison, parenting in a “maximally authoritative” way with regard to smoking would lower teen smoking by 16 percent.
“Smoking is a killer. Its connection to cancer, heart attack and chronic lung disease is beyond doubt,” said Dr. Sargent. “We’re just asking the movie industry to take smoking as seriously as they take profanity when applying the R rating. The benefit to society in terms of reduced healthcare costs and higher quality of life is almost incalculable,” he said.
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