(CNN) – Movies that depict characters smoking cigarettes should automatically be given an ‘R’ rating in order to curb smoking among early teenagers and tweens, according to a new study from The National Journal of Pediatrics released today.
The authors interviewed 6,500 10 to 14-year-olds. They asked which movies they’d seen the previous year and whether or not they’d tried smoking. The children were then re-interviewed three more times over two years.
Researchers found those who watched more movies that included smoking were more likely to smoke themselves. The study authors say requiring an “R” rating for those movies would help decrease teen smoking.
According to the study, PG-13 films account for nearly two-thirds of the smoking scenes adolescents see on the big screen. For every 500 smoking scenes a child saw in PG-13 movies, his or her likelihood of trying cigarettes increased by 49%.
The authors estimate that assigning an “R” rating to all movies portraying smoking would lower the proportion of kids who try cigarettes at this age by 18%
You can read more on the study in the August 2012 Pediatrics — which is published online.