Youth who watch a lot of movies with cigarette-smoking characters, no matter what the film's rating is, are more likely to start smoking themselves, according to a new U.S. study.
The lead author of the report, which appeared in Pediatrics, said the conclusion supports the idea that the smoking itself - not the sex, profanity or violence that may go along with it in certain films - influences teens to take up the habit.
"Movie smoking seems to be just as impactful if it's packaged in a PG-13 movie as opposed to an R movie," said James Sargent, from the Geisei School of Medicine at Dartmouth in Lebanon, New Hampshire.
"I really think it's a 'cool' factor. The more they see it, the more they start to see ways that (smoking) might make them seem more movie star," he told Reuters Health.
Sargent and his colleagues counted how many times a character was seen smoking in each of over 500 box-office hits from recent years. Then they asked 6,500 U.S. children aged 10 to 14 which of a random selection of 50 of those movies they'd watched.
The average "dose" of movie smoking was 275 scenes from films rated PG-13 and 93 scenes from R movies, the researchers said.
In three subsequent interviews with the same youths, those who had watched smoking-heavy movies were more likely to pick up the habit themselves. For each extra 500 smoking shots reported in their initial survey, young people were 33 to 49 percent more likely to try cigarettes over the next two years.
The effect of on-screen smoking was not significantly different for PG-13 and R films. Because young people tend to see more PG-13 films, Sargent's team calculated that if smoking automatically earned an R rating, the number of youngsters who try cigarettes would drop by 18 percent.
In the United States, a movie rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America suggests some material may be inappropriate for kids under age 13. An R rating means children under age 17 must be accompanied by an adult.
"At this point, it is established that exposure to smoking in movies is a potent risk factor for actually taking up smoking, especially when the exposures are early," said Brian Primack, head of the Program for Research on Media and Health at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
"This study goes a step further and suggests that taking smoking out of all PG-13 movies could have a palpable effect on the impact of smoking in the US," he told Reuters Health in an email.
But another researcher who was not involved in the study said he wasn't sure if eliminating smoking from all non-R movies was "the magic answer."
Matthew Farrelly, who studies smoking at the scientific institute RTI in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, said the study is a step in the right direction but that he wasn't sure the researchers could totally discount the influence of violence and profanity in moves on kids' decision to try smoking just by looking at movie ratings.
"I'm hoping that someone can disentangle smoking in the movies from other content that might appeal to youth to really firm up the relationship," he said.
Though the link between on-screen smoking and trying cigarettes "makes sense," Farrelly added: "I just think the relationship has been vastly overstated." SOURCE: http://bit.ly/jsoh2P
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms a patient at a hospital in Dallas, Texas, was diagnosed with the Ebola virus.
The Saudi Arabian national was being treated in an isolation ward in a hospital in Vienna and all people she had been in contact with would be informed and checked for symptoms
The death toll has risen to at least 3,091 out of 6,574 probable, suspected and confirmed cases.
In the study of 50 non-small cell lung cancer patients with a rearrangement of the ROS1 gene, Xalkori treatment led to significant tumor shrinkage in 36 of them, or 72 percent, and halted tumor growth in an additional 9 patients.
The second contingent of 296 doctors and nurses will head to Liberia and Guinea, the official news agency Prensa Latina said on Friday.
Part of a broad tax reform, Chile's carbon tax will target the power sector, particularly generators operating thermal plants with installed capacity equal or larger than 50 megawatts (MW).
Priest Manuel Garcia Viejo, 69, passed away after having caught virus while working in Sierra Leone.
Malaria, diarrhoea, pneumonia threaten many more lives as fear of Ebola means sick people are avoiding clinics and death toll among health workers has left few staff
Health officials issue alerts as the number of suspected cases of the chikingunya virus approach 1 million.
Rabies remains a threat to half the world's people and about 40 percent of victims are children, the experts said.
U.S. President Barack Obama called on more nations to help fight the world's worst outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, saying hundreds of thousands of lives were at stake.
India's Supreme Court ruled that 214 coal mining licenses granted between 1993 and 2010 were "illegally and arbitrarily" allocated.
WHO advisers earlier recommended the screening of travellers departing Ebola-affected countries from airports and ports.
Several islands had been abandoned in Kiribati partly because low-lying farmland was becoming less productive as storm surges whipped more salt onto the land
The event, which comes ahead of a UN summit, will call on leaders to do more to meet the threat of climate change