Studies have shown that depictions of smoking in movies cause adolescents to begin smoking. In a new study, “Influence of Motion Picture Rating on Adolescent Response to Movie Smoking
,” in the August 2012 Pediatrics (published online July 9), researchers examine whether it is primarily the smoking in movies – versus the other adult behaviors that go with it – that affects adolescents’ behavior. Study authors surveyed 6,522 adolescents ages 10 to 14 years every eight months over a 2-year period. The teens were asked whether they had seen top-grossing movies from the previous year, and researchers counted the number of smoking occurrences each adolescent had seen from his or her list of movies. The adolescents were also asked if they had ever tried smoking a cigarette. Study authors found that movie smoking had the same impact on teens regardless of whether the films were rated PG-13 or R. Smoking was uncommon in movies rated G or PG and not linked to teenagers’ smoking, a finding consistent with prior research. Roughly 60 percent of teens’ movie smoking exposure comes from PG-13 and other youth-rated movies. Study authors conclude that requiring an R rating for movie smoking would substantially reduce adolescent smoking by eliminating smoking from PG-13 movies.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.