Will slapping an R rating on new movies that include scenes of smoking reduce the numbers of young kids who ultimately take up the habit?
According to a summertime study published in the journal Pediatrics, an R rating for movies that show actors smoking could reduce youth smoking onset in the United States by 18%.
The U.S Surgeon General's Office says that each day in the United States, over 3,800 young people under 18 years of age smoke their first cigarette, and over 1,000 youth under age 18 become daily cigarette smokers.
The San Francisco-based Smoke Free Movies claims "Most youth exposure to on-screen smoking occurs in youth-rated films, particularly PG-13. In 2008, PG-13 films delivered 65% of tobacco impressions (11.7 billion of the 18.1 billion impressions)."
The Pediatrics report looked at the exposure to smoking in film and youth smoking rates. Researchers found a similar connection in PG-13 and R rated films.
But since young people watch more PG-13 movies than the R rated age-restricted movies, the American Lung Association believes that assigning an R-rating to movies depicting smoking could play a large role in reducing smoking among youth.
The Lung Association says that the Motion Picture Association of America in 2007 announced that it would 'consider' smoking in assigning movie ratings, but "there is no evidence that a movie rating has been changed to R due to depictions of smoking."
U.S. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin states in her 2012 report Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults that depictions of smoking in movies leads kids to "smoking intiation."
What do you think? Will a R-rating on movies that show scenes of smoking help to keep young people away from taking up the habit? Or are the Surgeon General and the American Lung Association just blowing smoke, using movie producers as a scapegoat for youth smoking? Is suggesting the MPPA ratchet up their ratings from PG-13 to R a violation of a movie producer's rights?
Tell us in your comments. Then vote in the poll below.