Kids who see actors smoking tobacco in movies are more likely to try cigarettes—so any film with a smoking scene should get an R rating, a new study suggests. Researchers surveyed children ages 10 to 14 and found that two-thirds of the smoking scenes they saw were in PG-13 films. Furthermore, for every 500 smoking scenes viewed in a PG-13 movie (including brief shots or background scenes), the chances of a child experimenting with tobacco increased 49%, CNN reports.
"The movie industry [should] treat smoking like it treats profanity and sex and violence," says the lead author. "If saying the 'F' word twice gets you an R rating, certainly something as important as smoking should get you an R rating." If the industry took this step, the proportion of children who try smoking would decrease by 18%, the study estimates. The MPAA responded to the study by stating that it does attempt to balance the "serious health problem" of underage smoking with "freedom of expression and speech and storytelling."