Media Influences

Do movie ratings indicate how much smoking, drinking and other risk behaviors are shown in movies?

Supposedly, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rates movies to help parents decide whether the content of a movie is appropriate for their children to see.  We analyzed 900 top box-office movies to determine if the MPAA ratings were useful for indicating the amount of risk behaviors shown in movies

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Study examines links between movie smoking, team sports participation and youth smoking.

Our study examined the joint effects of movie smoking exposure and team sports participation on established smoking. We analyzed data from school and telephone-based surveys that assessed movie smoking exposure and team sports participation in 2,048 youths aged 16-21 years.

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Smoking in movies is often associated with the characteristics that adolescents find appealing, such as toughness, sexiness and rebelliousness. A review of 250 top box office hits from the years 1988 – 1997, showed that 89% of these movies contain episodes of smoking and tobacco use. Through our research we have found:

Seeing smoking in movies can almost triple the chances that an adolescent will try smoking.

In a study of New England adolescents, those who saw the most amount of smoking in movies were 2.7 times more likely to try smoking compared to those who saw the least amount of smoking.

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Adolescents who watch R-rated movies are more likely to initiate smoking and drinking.

Our research shows that R-rated movies contain more smoking and drinking than movies in other rating categories. R- and PG-13-rated movies are more likely to influence adolescents to smoke or drink compared to PG- and G-rated movies.

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Tobacco Brands Still Common in PG-13 Movies.

Despite the 1988 Master Settlement Agreement that prohibits tobacco companies from paying for tobacco brand appearances in movies, 1 out of 8 PG-13 rated movies continues to feature tobacco brands.

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