Should movies that show smoking get an automatic R rating?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study last week that showed that 1 out of 4 movies rated G, PG or PG-13 showed someone smoking in them, though most incidents happened in movies rated PG-13. The rates of youth-rated movies that have smoking in them were declining until 2010, but have stayed the same in recent years. And the number of smoking incidents in PG-13 movies rose 43 percent in 2016.

Moana doesn’t smoke but her PG rating doesn’t prevent her from doing so. (Disney via AP)

The American Academy of Pediatrics again has called on the Motion Picture Association of America to change any film that shows smoking to an R rating.  Its reasoning is that 90 percent of smokers start before age 18, according to a U.S. Surgeon General’s 2012 report. That same U.S. Surgeon General’s report showed that kids who are exposed to the most screen images of people smoking are twice as likely as kids who get the exposure to start smoking.

Last year, the Motion Picture Association and the National Association of Theatre Owners won a lawsuit by a parent in California who said that they were causing children to start smoking and die from it. 

What do you think? Would changing the movie rating from PG-13 to R really make that much of a difference? Do parents actually not let their children not see an R movie until they turn 17 or a PG-13 movie until they turn 13? I’m thinking most parents don’t follow that rating system that closely, but perhaps a G movie or a PG movie should not have smoking at all.

Author: Nicole Villalpando

Nicole Villalpando writes about families in the Raising Austin blog and the Raising Austin column on Saturdays. She also offers a weekly and monthly family calendar at She tweets at @raisingaustin.

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