Tobacco imagery on prime time UK television

Lyons, Ailsa, McNeill, Ann and Britton, John (2013) Tobacco imagery on prime time UK television. Tobacco Control . pp. 1-7. ISSN 1468-3318

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Background: Smoking in films is a common and well

documented cause of youth smoking experimentation

and uptake and hence a significant health hazard. The

extent of exposure of young people to tobacco imagery

in television programming has to date been far less

investigated. We have therefore measured the extent to

which tobacco content occurs in prime time UK

television, and estimated exposure of UK youth.

Methods: The occurrence of tobacco, categorised as

actual tobacco use, implied tobacco use, tobacco

paraphernalia, other reference to tobacco, tobacco brand

appearances or any of these, occurring in all prime time

broadcasting on the five most popularly viewed UK

television stations during 3 separate weeks in 2010 were

measured by 1-minute interval coding. Youth exposure

to tobacco content in the UK was estimated using media

viewing figures.

Findings: Actual tobacco use, predominantly cigarette

smoking, occurred in 73 of 613 (12%) programmes,

particularly in feature films and reality TV. Brand

appearances were rare, occurring in only 18

programmes, of which 12 were news or other factual

genres, and 6 were episodes of the same British soap

opera. Tobacco occurred with similar frequency before as

after 21:00, the UK watershed for programmes suitable

for youth. The estimated number of incidences of

exposure of the audience aged less than 18 years for

any tobacco, actual tobacco use and tobacco branding

were 59 million, 16 million and 3 million, respectively on

average per week.

Conclusions: Television programming is a source of

significant exposure of youth to tobacco imagery, before

and after the watershed. Tobacco branding is particularly

common in Coronation Street, a soap opera popular

among youth audiences. More stringent controls on

tobacco in prime time television therefore have the

potential to reduce the uptake of youth smoking in

the UK.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: To cite: Lyons A, McNeill A, Britton J. Tob Control Published Online First:[11th March 2013] doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2012-050650
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Medicine > Division of Epidemiology and Public Health
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Johnson, Mrs Alison
Date Deposited: 27 Mar 2014 13:53
Last Modified: 04 May 2020 16:36

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