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A content analysis of tobacco and alcohol audio-visual content in a sample of UK reality TV programmes

Barker, Alexander B; Britton, John; Thomson, Emily; Hunter, Abby; Opazo Breton, Magdalena; Murray, Rachael L


Alexander B Barker

John Britton

Emily Thomson

Abby Hunter

Magdalena Opazo Breton

Rachael L Murray


Background: Exposure to tobacco and alcohol content in audio-visual media is a risk factor for smoking and alcohol use in young people. We report an analysis of tobacco and alcohol content, and estimates of population exposure to this content, in a sample of reality 6television programmes broadcast in the UK.

Methods: We used one-minute interval coding to quantify tobacco and alcohol content in all episodes of five reality TV programmes aired between January and August 2018 (Celebrity Big Brother; Made in Chelsea ; The Only Way is Essex ; Geordie Shore and Love Island), and estimated population exposure using viewing data and UK population estimates.

Results: We coded 5219 intervals from 112 episodes. Tobacco content appeared in 110 (2%) intervals in 20 (18%) episodes, and alcohol in 2212 (42%) intervals and in all episodes. The programmes delivered approximately 204 million tobacco gross impressions to the UK population, including 48.26 million to children; and for alcohol, 5.4 billion and 593 million respectively.

Conclusion: Tobacco, and especially alcohol, content is common in reality TV. The popularity of these programmes with young people, and consequent exposure to tobacco and alcohol imagery, represents a potentially major driver of smoking and alcohol consumption.


Barker, A. B., Britton, J., Thomson, E., Hunter, A., Opazo Breton, M., & Murray, R. L. (2019). A content analysis of tobacco and alcohol audio-visual content in a sample of UK reality TV programmes. Journal of Public Health,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 27, 2019
Online Publication Date Jun 17, 2019
Publication Date Jun 17, 2019
Deposit Date Mar 29, 2019
Publicly Available Date Jun 19, 2019
Print ISSN 1741-3842
Electronic ISSN 1741-3850
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords alcohol; epidemiology; smoking
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Corrigendum: <a style="text-decoration: underline;" href="" target="_blank"></a>


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