Film smoking sways teens, study shows

WASHINGTON -- A new survey that claims to show a link between smoking on film and teenage tobacco use is giving ammunition to advocates of an automatic R rating for movies that feature smoking.

A study released Monday in the journal Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine proposes a direct link between viewing smoking in movies and established adolescent smoking.

Conducted by Dr. James Sargent at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Hanover, N.H., and funded by the National Cancer Institute and American Legacy Foundation, the study -- "Exposure to Smoking Depictions in Movies: Its Association With Established Adolescent Smoking" -- contends that it is the first national study to indicate that exposure to smoking in movies predicts whether young people will become lifelong smokers.

According to the study, youth that are exposed to movie smoking double their risk of becoming established smokers, who are at high risk to suffer the consequences of adult tobacco addiction.

The American Legacy Foundation is one of the most vocal advocates for an R rating for movies that contain a depiction of smoking.

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