There is an observed increasing trend of substance use among the adolescents and young adults. One of the important aetiologies is "modeling" especially from popular artists portraying their use to the viewing public over the electronic media. Indigenous films on video tapes acted in English or "Yoruba" (a popular Nigerian language) were randomly selected from various retail outlets in Lagos for viewing. The settings were the Ikorodu and Ipaja suburbs of Lagos. The viewing audience in each center was made up of a researcher and two adolescent secondary school students. They were to make notes on each film with scenes of substance use, type, and nature of use. A total of 479 video tapes were studied over a 6 month period, of which 268 (55.9%) contained scenes portraying the use of one or more substances. Two hundred forty-seven (51.6%, N = 479) depicted the use of only one type of substance and the rest, 21 (4.3%, N = 479), portrayed the use of multiple substances. The commonest substance portrayed to be used was alcohol, 197 (41.1%, N = 479), followed by tobacco, 81 (16.9%, N = 479). Cannabis was shown to be used in only 3 (0.6%, N = 479); Cocaine and Heroin in 8 (1.6%, N = 479) of the films. There was no statistically significant difference on substance use portrayal between the home movies acted in English and Yoruba (chi2 = 32.8; df = 7 at p > or = 0.05). A significant number of films on video tapes in Nigeria portrayed substance use which could act as triggers or reinforcement for substance use among the viewing audience, especially adolescents and young adults. The need to censor video tapes on substance use portrayal was advocated.