Adolescents' exposure to tobacco and alcohol content in YouTube music videos

Addiction. 2015 Apr;110(4):703-11. doi: 10.1111/add.12835. Epub 2015 Jan 28.


Aims: To quantify tobacco and alcohol content, including branding, in popular contemporary YouTube music videos; and measure adolescent exposure to such content.

Design: Ten-second interval content analysis of alcohol, tobacco or electronic cigarette imagery in all UK Top 40 YouTube music videos during a 12-week period in 2013/14; on-line national survey of adolescent viewing of the 32 most popular high-content videos.

Setting: Great Britain.

Participants: A total of 2068 adolescents aged 11-18 years who completed an on-line survey.

Measurements: Occurrence of alcohol, tobacco and electronic cigarette use, implied use, paraphernalia or branding in music videos and proportions and estimated numbers of adolescents who had watched sampled videos.

Findings: Alcohol imagery appeared in 45% [95% confidence interval (CI) = 33-51%] of all videos, tobacco in 22% (95% CI = 13-27%) and electronic cigarettes in 2% (95% CI = 0-4%). Alcohol branding appeared in 7% (95% CI = 2-11%) of videos, tobacco branding in 4% (95% CI = 0-7%) and electronic cigarettes in 1% (95% CI = 0-3%). The most frequently observed alcohol, tobacco and electronic cigarette brands were, respectively, Absolut Tune, Marlboro and E-Lites. At least one of the 32 most popular music videos containing alcohol or tobacco content had been seen by 81% (95% CI = 79%, 83%) of adolescents surveyed, and of these 87% (95% CI = 85%, 89%) had re-watched at least one video. The average number of videos seen was 7.1 (95% CI = 6.8, 7.4). Girls were more likely to watch and also re-watch the videos than boys, P < 0.001.

Conclusions: Popular YouTube music videos watched by a large number of British adolescents, particularly girls, include significant tobacco and alcohol content, including branding.

Keywords: Adolescent exposure; YouTube; alcohol; music videos; new media; tobacco.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alcohol Drinking*
  • Alcoholic Beverages*
  • Child
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Music
  • Smoking
  • Social Environment
  • Social Media*
  • Tobacco Products*
  • Tobacco Use*
  • United Kingdom
  • Video Recording