Although many parents believe smoking and drinking alcohol should be factored into movie ratings, fewer than half of parents surveyed felt such behaviors warranted an "R" rating for a film.

And, only about one-quarter felt that smoking in movies was enough of a factor on its own to justify an R rating. Yet, past studies have shown that high exposure to smoking scenes in movies increases the risk of teen smoking.

"Parents need to know that in terms of risk factors for smoking and possibly alcohol use, movies have a strong influence on children," said the study's lead author, Meghan Longacre, an instructor and research coordinator at the Hood Center for Children and Families at Dartmouth Medical School in Lebanon, N.H.

"I think our study suggests that researchers and public health advocates need to do a bit more work to educate parents about the relationship between movie smoking exposure and children's initiation, and to motivate and assist them to monitor their children's movie viewing," she added.

Dr. Jonathan Pletcher, an adolescent medicine specialist at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, said the "onus can't all be on the parents. This goes beyond what a parent is able to control in our society. Kids are getting bombarded with these messages every day."

But, Pletcher added, smoking and drinking are definitely things that parents should try to talk about with their children. That way, you can help put these behaviors into context and convey your own values to your child, he said.

Source: U.S. News & World Report
http://health.usnews.com/articles/health/healthday/2009/03/03/smoking-drinking-should-matter-in-movie-ratings.html