Objective: To determine the proportion of televised movie trailers that included images of tobacco use during 1 year and the extent of youth exposure to those trailers.
Design: Content analysis combined with Nielsen data measuring media exposure. All movie trailers (N = 216) shown on television from August 1, 2001, through July 31, 2002.
Main outcome measures: Exposure among youth aged 12 to 17 years to televised movie trailers that included smoking imagery.
Results: Of the movie trailers televised during the study period, 14.4% (31 trailers) included images of tobacco use. Tobacco use was shown in 24.0% of the 23 trailers for R-rated (restricted) movies and 7.5% of the 8 trailers for PG-13- and PG-rated (parental guidance) movies. Ninety-five percent of all youth aged 12 to 17 years in the United States saw at least 1 movie trailer depicting tobacco use on television during this 1 year, and 88.8% saw at least 1 of these trailers 3 or more times.
Conclusions: Nearly all US youth aged 12 to 17 years were exposed to images of tobacco use on television in the context of a movie trailer during the study period. Given the relationship between youth exposure to tobacco use in movies and smoking initiation, the public health community should work to enact policy to reduce or eliminate the influence of tobacco use in televised movie trailers.