Tobacco and alcohol use in top-grossing American films

J Community Health. 1998 Aug;23(4):317-24. doi: 10.1023/a:1018727606500.


This study assessed the prevalence of tobacco and alcohol use in top-grossing American films from 1985 to 1995. The top ten money-making films for 1985 to 1995 were viewed to identify the prevalence of alcohol and tobacco use overall and by lead characters. While the use of tobacco and alcohol was stable across the study period, use of these substances was common. Most films (98%) had references that supported tobacco use and 96% had references that supported alcohol use. Discouraging the use of these substances was uncommon. Only one third of films had any references that discouraged the use of tobacco or alcohol (38% and 37%, respectively). At least one lead character used tobacco or alcohol in 46% and 79% of the films, respectively. The hazards of smoking and drinking are not reflected in the behaviors of film characters who are potential role models for youth facing the decision to smoke or drink.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Alcohol Drinking / prevention & control
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Education
  • Humans
  • Imitative Behavior
  • Male
  • Motion Pictures / statistics & numerical data*
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking Prevention
  • United States