A Content Analysis of Tobacco Content in UK Television

Alexander Barker, Kathy Whittamore, John Britton, Jo Cranwell

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19 Citations (SciVal)


Exposure to audiovisual tobacco content in media is a risk factor for smoking in young people. While tobacco content in films has been extensively documented, content in mainstream television has received relatively little attention. We report an analysis of tobacco content in a sample of UK free-to-air prime-time television broadcasts in 2015, and compare this with a similar analysis from 2010.

Content analysis of all programmes and advertisements or trailers broadcast on the five national UK free-to-air channels in the UK between 18:00 and 22:00 during three separate weeks in September, October and November 2015.

Great Britain.

None (media analysis only).

Occurrence of any tobacco, tobacco use, implied use, other tobacco reference/related objects and branding in every 1 min coding interval.

Tobacco content occurred in 33% of all programmes and 8% of all adverts or programme trailer breaks. Actual tobacco use occurred in 12% of all programmes broadcast. Tobacco-related objects, primarily no smoking signs, occurred in 2% of broadcasts; implied tobacco use and tobacco branding were also rare. The majority of tobacco content occurred after the 21:00 watershed.

These findings are virtually unchanged from our earlier analysis of programme content from 2010. Audiovisual tobacco content remains common in UK television programmes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-385
Number of pages5
JournalTobacco Control
Issue number4
Early online date13 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019

Bibliographical note

© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2019. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.


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