A new study reveals that smoking in movies is three times higher in PG-13 films than in those rated R. The reason for this probably hinges around the content of the movies. R rated films usually contain more sex and violence, less time for sitting around smoking cigarettes. Or do movie companies think having smoking characters in their films somehow helps it be more “bad” even while maintaining the lower rating? In any case, the study indicates that teenagers picking up the habit could be reduced by a whopping 18% if smoking was labelled as taboo and eliminated from PG-13 films. Of course, like with all of these studies, they quote a lot of admirable statistics without any real cognitive explanation of how they arrived at these figures.
Common Sense Conspiracy thinks that the data is pretty overwhelming that smoking is bad for your health, and we certainly don’t want teens picking up the habit if we can help it. But how is watching people smoke in movies any different from walking down the street and seeing people smoking everywhere they go? Is it just because the people smoking in the movies are considered to be more glamorous? What if only the bad guys smoke in the movies? Would that make it better?
The bottom line here is that teenage smoking is not really about movies or television or the people you see on the street lighting up. It’s about parenting. If you could do a survey and people actually told the truth, you would probably find that a very high percentage of teenagers that pick up smoking at such an early age do so because their parents either don’t keep track of what they are doing or smoke themselves. How many good kids with family-oriented households are sneaking off and smoking cigarettes? And any good parent can probably see the warning signs. It’s very difficult to smoke several cigarettes a day while you’re away at school and not smell like it when you get home. It’s also very difficult to keep them and all the things that go along with them (lighter, ashtray, etc) completely hidden from parents that are not walking around with blinders on. Don’t forget the money involved. Smoking is not exactly a cheap habit these days. Most teens would probably be spending more than an hour’s pay on cigarettes.
So, what do you think? Is smoking enough to get a film branded with the so-called “kiss of death” R rating?