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>  News Releases >   2007 >   February

Survey finds that adults support stricter movie rating criteria for films that depict smoking

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 02/19/07
Sue Knapp • (603) 646-3661

Susanne Tanski
Susanne Tanski (Photo by Mark Washburn)

A Dartmouth Medical School pediatrician is part of the research team that has determined there is increasing concern among adults about depictions of smoking in movies and how it influences adolescents. Susanne Tanski, an assistant professor of pediatrics and a co-author on the study, was part of the group reporting their findings on Feb. 12 at the American Medical Association (AMA) Alliance's National Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C. The AMA Alliance is the grass roots arm of the AMA that involves physicians who promote health and wellness.

"This series of surveys demonstrates an increasing awareness of the impact of movie smoking on young people," says Tanski, who is also affiliated with the Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. "With the level of concern this has generated among parents, I hope that the movie industry is paying attention."

In surveys conducted for the past three years by the Social Science Research Center at Mississippi State University, adults were asked about their attitudes toward smoking in the movies and polled about their thoughts on implementing an R rating for movies that depict smoking. The findings show that 70 percent of adults call for R ratings in movies that show smoking, unless the film clearly demonstrates the dangers of smoking or it is necessary to represent smoking of a real historical figure. In fact, public support for the R rating increased by more than 10 percent from previous years.

Two-thirds of adults agree that movies should be required to show an antismoking advertisement before any film that includes smoking. The survey also determined that support for these policies among parents is not significantly different from adults in general.

Past Dartmouth research has explored how movies influence adolescent behavior, including smoking and drinking. This research has revealed that when adolescents see smoking in movies, they are more likely to try smoking.

More information about this series of surveys and their findings is available online.

In addition to Tanski, other authors on the paper include: Robert McMillen and Nell Valentine with the Social Science Research Center at Mississippi State University; and Jonathan Winickoff, of Harvard Medical School.

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