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Content analysis of tobacco content in UK television

Barker, Alexander B; Whittamore, Kathy; Britton, John; Cranwell, Jo


Alexander B Barker

Kathy Whittamore

John Britton

Jo Cranwell


Aims: Exposure to audio-visual tobacco content in media is a risk factor for smoking in young people. Whilst tobacco content in films has been extensively documented, content in mainstream television has received relatively little attention. We report an analysis of tobacco content in a sample of UK free-to-air prime-time television broadcasts in 2015, and compare this with a similar analysis from 2010.
Design: Content analysis of all programmes and advertisements or trailers broadcast on the five national UK free-to-air channels in the UK between 6 and 10p.m. during three separate weeks in September, October and November 2015.
Setting: Great Britain.
Participants: None (media analysis only)
Measurements: Occurrence of any tobacco, tobacco use, implied use, other tobacco reference/related objects and branding in every one-minute coding interval.
Findings: Tobacco content occurred in 33% of all programmes and 8% of all adverts or programme trailer breaks. Actual tobacco use occurred in 12% of all programmes broadcast. Tobacco-related objects, primarily no-smoking signs, occurred in 2% of broadcasts; implied tobacco use and tobacco branding were also rare. The majority of tobacco content occurred before the 9p.m. watershed.
Conclusions: These findings are virtually unchanged from our earlier analysis of programme content from 2010. Audio-visual tobacco content remains common in UK television programmes


Barker, A. B., Whittamore, K., Britton, J., & Cranwell, J. (2019). Content analysis of tobacco content in UK television. Tobacco Control, 28(4), 381-385.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 27, 2018
Online Publication Date Aug 13, 2018
Publication Date Jul 1, 2019
Deposit Date Jul 2, 2018
Publicly Available Date Aug 17, 2018
Journal Tobacco Control
Print ISSN 0964-4563
Electronic ISSN 1468-3318
Publisher BMJ Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 28
Issue 4
Pages 381-385
Public URL
Publisher URL


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