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Silver Screen or Smoke Screen?

Many responsible parents ensure that the films their children watch are age appropriate and not adult oriented; those same parents might be surprised to learn that the amount of smoking in youth-rated movies is on the rise.

According to a 2005 University of California report entitled "Smoking in the Movies Increases Adolescent Smoking: A Review," smoking in youth-rated movies is now more prevalent than in adult-rated movies. Because smoking is seldom portrayed negatively in movies, the authors of the report feel that many children are unwittingly being encouraged to start smoking.

Another study that appeared in the November 2005 issue of Pediatrics also examined whether or not exposure to movie smoking influenced adolescents. The researchers surveyed 6,522 US youths aged 10 to 14 and concluded that the more adolescents view movie smoking, the greater the likelihood they would emulate their movie heroes and light up.

The authors of both reports suggest movies that feature smoking should be classified as adult-oriented, which would help parents who restrict their children's viewing and don't want their children to start smoking.

For information regarding whether or not a current movie features smoking, readers can check out smokefreemovies.ucsf.edu/problem/now_showing.html.

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