Parents ought to be warned that cigarette-smoking scenes in PG13 movies can drive children to try the habit themselves.
In a new study done by researchers at the Geisel School of Medicine in New Hampshire, kids are more influenced by the smoking characters in movies, contrary to earlier beliefs that sex, profanity, and violence in movies have greater impact on kids.
Dr. James Sargent and his team analyzed over 500 box-office hit movies over the years for cigarette-smoking scenes. On the average, PG 13 movies had 275 instances wherein characters were shown smoking. On the other hand, R-rated movies had less of the said scenes with only 93 occurrences.
The researchers gathered 6,500 kids in the US under the 10- to 14-year-old age bracket who were able to watch at least 50 of the movies in their list. After three stages of interviews, it was noted that scenes with cigarette smoking convinced most of the children to take up the habit themselves. As the kids continue to watch movies with smoking, about 33-49% of them will try cigarettes in the next two years.
“Movie smoking seems to be just as impactful if it’s packaged in a PG-13 movie as opposed to an R movie. I really think it’s a ‘cool’ factor. The more they (kids) see it, the more they start to see ways that (smoking) might make them seem more movie-star,” Dr. Sargent tells Reuters Health.
Since children are able to watch more PG 13 movies, it is expected that adolescent smoking rates will increase. For Dr. Sargent’s team, movies with cigarette-smoking scenes ought to be given R ratings to minimize kids’ exposure on such themes.