Movies & Streaming

Tobacco remains rampant in the year’s most popular shows, movies, and music videos, fueling the ongoing youth e-cigarette epidemic

Truth Initiative’s recently published report looking at tobacco imagery in entertainment, “While You Were Streaming: Nicotine on Demand,” finds that as young people watched more video content than ever before in 2020, pervasive smoking and vaping imagery lit up their screens.

The report once again analyzes tobacco imagery across the 15 most popular streaming shows among 15- to 24-year-olds and for the first time includes data on those that were frequently binge-watched as well as the year’s chart-topping movies and music videos. Young people were bombarded with tobacco imagery across these entertainment sources in 2020, posing a significant threat given the on-going youth e-cigarette epidemic.

Video: While You Were Streaming: Nicotine on Demand

The report found that:

  • 60% of young people’s favorite new releases featured images of tobacco, including top shows depicting youth and teen tobacco use such as “The Simpsons,” “Family Guy,” “Rick and Morty,” “Big Mouth,” and “Law & Order SVU.” The top shows alone are responsible for exposing an estimated 27 million young people to tobacco imagery in 2020, but they are far from the only popular content featuring tobacco imagery.
  • 64% of the top binge-watched shows among young people included tobacco depictions, including “The Queen’s Gambit,” “The Umbrella Academy,” “Shameless,” and "On My Block."
  • Despite a prior pledge to limit tobacco depictions in its offerings, Netflix was the top offender based on its new 2020 season releases and popular binge-worthy shows, like “The Umbrella Academy” and “The Queen’s Gambit,” which included tobacco in every episode.
  • 38% of top newly released movies in 2020 depicted tobacco, including 10 youth-rated films such as the PG-rated “The Personal History of David Copperfield,” according to an independent external analysis.
  • 23% of the top 2020 Billboard songs featured smoking and vaping in their music videos, amassing over 6 billion views on YouTube alone.

Picture: Truth Initiative

Full report “Nicotine on Demand” here: