The declining visibility of tobacco products on prime-time U.S. broadcast television shows is linked to a drop in smoking of nearly two packs of cigarettes per adult per year, according to a study published online in the journal Tobacco Control on April 3.
The study, the largest-ever of tobacco use on television, found that the drop in portrayals of smoking and tobacco use in prime-time dramas mirrored the national decline in consumption, according to researchers at the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) of the University of Pennsylvania.
Importantly, annual changes in the amount of smoking seen on popular TV dramas also predicted changes in U.S. cigarette consumption.
The finding of a close relationship between smoking in TV dramas and national smoking rates echoes earlier research by APPC showing that smoking trends in top-grossing movies since 1950 paralleled national cigarette consumption. However, the current study was able to not only analyze annual changes in smoking rates on TV but use those changes to predict annual changes in U.S. cigarette consumption. The findings provide stronger evidence suggesting that screen-based media portrayals of smoking have contributed to the U.S. smoking epidemic.
“TV characters who smoke are likely to trigger the urge to smoke in cigarette users, making it harder for them to quit,” said Patrick E. Jamieson, the study’s lead author and director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center’s Adolescent Risk Communication Institute. “Despite the decline since 1961, tobacco use on TV remains a cause for concern.”
The study examined 1,838 hours of popular U.S. prime-time dramas shown on broadcast television over 56 years, from 1955 to 2010.
Related news coverage of the study:
- Penampakan Rokok di TV Pengaruhi Kebiasaan Merokok Orang Dewasa (detikHealth (Indonesia) April 21, 2014)
- Smoking on TV triggering adults to light up (IBNtv (Tanzania), April 19, 2014)
- Asocian el tabaquismo en TV con la adicción en adultos (elEconomista.es, April 17, 2014)
- Smoking on TV triggering adults to light up (PressTV, April 16, 2014)
- Tobacco on TV tied to adult smoking rates (Reuters, April 15, 2014)
- The Cool Thing That May Have Helped Lower Smoking Rates (SELF Magazine, April 8, 2014)
- Cutting Cigarette Scenes From TV Shows May Have Helped Reduce Smoking (HealthDay, April 4, 2014)
- Quitting Smoking With Television (Newsweek, April 4, 2014)
- With Primetime Reel Life Declining Tobacco Use, Smoking Habits Fall in Real Life Too (Onlymyhealth (New Delhi), April 4, 2014)
- Quitting Smoking Is Tied To Fewer TV Commercials, But Price Still Plays The Largest Role (Medical Daily, April 4, 2014)
- Study: Thank Hollywood for the Drop in Smoking (US News & World Report, April 4, 2014)
- Smoking on TV Affects Adults as Well as Kids (MedPage Today, April 4, 2014)
- Tobacco less visible on prime time TV; study links trend to drop in U.S. smoking rates (The Plain Dealer (Cleveland), April 4, 2014)
- Does smoking on TV affect rates of real-life tobacco consumption? (Medical News Today, April 4, 2014)
- Drop in Number of Smokers with Decline of Tobacco Use on Prime-Time TV Dramas (News Tonight Africa (South Africa), April 4, 2014)
- Study: Cigarette Sales Decline Linked to TV Smoking (Variety, April 3, 2014)
- Study: Tobacco use declines on prime-time TV dramas (Los Angeles Times, April 3, 2014)
- Smoking Habits Fall in Primetime TV, and in Real Life (Time.com, April 3, 2014)
- Study: Cigarette Sales Decline as TV Features Fewer Smokers (The Hollywood Reporter, April 3, 2014)