Smoke-Free Media

Every day, youth consume a vast amount of media which comes in many different forms,
such as social media, streaming platforms, YouTube, music, video games, TV and movies.

Where is tobacco imagery found in pop culture?

  • Despite a 1998 federal law prohibiting paid tobacco product placements in movies and TV programming, electronic media permeates the cultural environment of young people and often contains tobacco imagery that glamorizes and normalizes tobacco use.
  • Youth are particularly susceptible to being influenced by images of any type of tobacco use including cigarettes, e-cigarettes, flavored cigars/cigarillos, and smokeless tobacco.

MoviesDefinitely Maybe

Streaming ServicesStranger Things

Video GamesHalo

Why is it a problem?

  • The Surgeon General’s report concluded that there is a causal relationship between depictions of smoking in the movies and the initiation of smoking among youth.
    • The more frequently youth see smoking on screen, the more likely they are to start smoking.
    • Youth who are heavily exposed to onscreen smoking imagery are approximately two to three times more likely to begin smoking than youth who are less exposed.
  • A recent Truth Initiative report entitled, “Played, Smoking and Video Games” determined that tobacco use is more prevalent in video games played by youth and is more likely to promote youth smoking use. Video game content descriptors often fail to mention tobacco use, making it difficult for parents and guardians to be aware of the issue.
  • According to Truth Initiative, 79% of Netflix shows most popular with teens and young adults prominently depict smoking prominently.

What is the solution?

  • Keeping tobacco imagery out of movies, video games, TV shows and other forms of pop culture and entertainment media is critical to protecting the health of youth and young adults. Learn more here: Action needed: Tobacco in pop culture. 
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that giving an R rating to films that have smoking, would delay the initiation of tobacco use among youth and prevent premature deaths from tobacco-related diseases.
  • If you want to show your support for keeping tobacco imagery out of films rated G, PG, and PG-13, please sign the Smoke-Free Media petition by clicking here.