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R-rated Movies and Smoking

Were you allowed to watch R-rated movies as a kid? Do you smoke now? Learn about the link between smoking and R-rated movies on this Moment of Science.

Pile of cigarette butts

Photo: Stock Exchange

One study shows that kids who think it's easy to get cigarettes are more likely to smoke

There’s a study out of the University of Massachusetts Medical School claiming that kids who are allowed to watch R-rated movies are more likely to think that it’s easy to get cigarettes. Other research has shown that kids who believe that scoring cigarettes is no problem are more likely to smoke.

The researchers don’t know the exact link between R-rated films and smoking. But they’ve looked at data from a nicotine dependence study. The results showed at least an association between kids who believe that cigarettes are readily available and kids whose parents let them watch R-rated movies.

There could be many other factors at play–like whether the parents smoke and have cigarettes lying around the house. But the study did take account of that and other factors. Other researchers have found that exposure to smoking in all movies–not just R-rated movies–is directly related to kids starting to smoke.

The bottom line is that there’s a lot of stuff in R-rated movies that’s not appropriate for kids–sex, violence, drug use, and so on. Making smoking look cool and possibly giving kids the idea that cigarettes are easy to get are just two more reasons why parents should think twice before letting their kids watch movies made for adults.

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