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Smoking, Drinking Should Matter in Movie Ratings, Parent Survey Finds
Date:3/3/2009

or also be included in the rating system, according to background information in the study, which was published in the March issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

The MPAA recently said it would consider smoking along with many other factors in rating films. However, the MPAA doesn't take alcohol use into account.

To assess the importance of these behaviors to parents, Longacre and her colleagues interviewed 2,564 parents from New Hampshire and Vermont about movie ratings. Most of the parents surveyed were mothers, and most were white. Their children were between the ages of 9 and 15 years.

Just over half felt that cigarettes should be factored into the ratings system, while 66 percent felt alcohol use should be. Almost 29 percent of parents thought that smoking in a film justified an R rating. Nearly 42 percent said that alcohol consumption was enough by itself to garner an R designation.

Longacre said the researchers were somewhat surprised that the parents seemed to be more concerned about drinking in movies than smoking. "It could reflect the fact that parents aren't aware of the research on exposure to movie smoking," she said. Or, "it also could reflect a greater recognition that adolescents are more likely to drink than smoke, and/or a greater concern with the negative consequences of teen drinking that may seem more immediate and dire to parents, such as drinking and driving, compared to the longer-term health consequences of smoking."

Pletcher pointed out one weakness of the study -- there wasn't a great deal of diversity in the study population, and he noted that there are "wide variations in how much people smoke or drink in different communities. In different areas, it's quite possible you'd get different results."

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