Depiction of alcohol, tobacco, and other substances in G-rated animated feature films

Pediatrics. 2001 Jun;107(6):1369-74. doi: 10.1542/peds.107.6.1369.


Objective: To quantify and characterize the depiction of alcohol, tobacco, and other substances in G-rated animated feature films.

Method: The content of all G-rated animated feature films released in theaters between 1937 and 2000, recorded in English, and available on videocassette in the United States by October 31, 2000, was reviewed for portrayals of alcohol, tobacco, and other substances and their use. Duration of scenes depicting alcohol, tobacco, or other substances; type of characters using them (good, neutral, or bad); and correlation of amount and type used with character type and movie type were evaluated.

Results: Of the 81 films reviewed, 38 films (47%) showed alcohol use (mean exposure: 42 seconds per film; range: 2 seconds to 2.9 minutes) and 35 films (43%) showed tobacco use (mean exposure: 2.1 minutes per film; range: 2 seconds to 10.5 minutes). Analysis of time trends showed a significant decrease in both tobacco and alcohol use over time (both corrected for total screen duration and uncorrected.) No films showed the use of illicit drugs, although 3 films showed characters consuming a substance that transfigured them and 2 films showed characters injected with a drug. Analysis of the correlation of alcohol and tobacco depiction revealed several scenes in which alcohol and tobacco were shown in use in the same scene and that bar scenes in these movies depict a significant amount of drinking, smoking, and violence. Three films contained a message that a character should stop smoking but none contained messages about restricting consumption of alcohol.

Conclusions: The depiction of alcohol and tobacco use in G-rated animated films seems to be decreasing over time. Nonetheless, parents should be aware that nearly half of the G-rated animated feature films available on videocassette show alcohol and tobacco use as normative behavior and do not convey the long-term consequences of this use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Cartoons as Topic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Promotion / standards
  • Health Promotion / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Motion Pictures / standards*
  • Motion Pictures / statistics & numerical data*
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Videotape Recording / standards
  • Videotape Recording / statistics & numerical data