Teens who are allowed to watch R-rated movies are more likely to take up smoking than teens whose parents bar them from viewing mature movie content, according to new research.
In fact, the study authors estimated that if 10- to 14-year-olds were completely restricted from viewing R-rated movies, their risk of starting to smoke could drop two to threefold.
However, the study found that only one in three young American teens is restricted from viewing R-rated films, which are restricted at the box office to teens 17 and older unless the child is accompanied by an adult.
"When watching popular movies, youth are exposed to many risk
behaviors, including smoking, which is rarely displayed with negative
health consequences and most often portrayed in a positive manner or
glamorized to some extent. Previous studies have shown that adolescents
who view movie smoking are more likely to begin smoking," said the
study's lead author, Rebecca de Leeuw, a doctoral student at Radboud
University Nijmegen in the Netherlands.
"Our findings indicate that parental R-rated movie restrictions were directly related to a lower risk of smoking initiation, but also indirectly through changes in children's sensation seeking," de Leeuw added.
"Sensation seeking is related to a higher risk for smoking onset. However, children with parents who restrict them from watching R-rated movies were less likely to develop higher levels of sensation seeking and, subsequently, at a lower risk for smoking onset," she explained.
Findings from the study are scheduled to appear in the January issue of Pediatrics.