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Study examines placement of tobacco and alcohol brands in movies rated for youth audiences

An analysis of top box-office movies released in the United States indicated tobacco brand producer placements in movies have declined since implementation of the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), but alcohol placements, which are subject only to industry self-regulation, have increased in movies rated acceptable for youth audiences, according to a study published Online First by JAMA Pediatrics, a JAMA Network publication.

There is growing evidence that movies influence substance use behaviors during adolescence. Children's exposure to movie imagery of tobacco and alcohol has been associated with not only smoking but also early onset of drinking, heavier drinking and abuse of alcohol, according to the study background.

Elaina Bergamini, M.S., of the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth University, New Hampshire, and colleagues examined recent trends for tobacco and alcohol use in movies. The study analyzed the top 100 box-office movie hits released in the United States from 1996 through 2009 (N=1400).

After implementation of the MSA in 1998, tobacco brand product appearances decreased by 7 percent each year, then held at a level of 22 per year after 2006. The MSA also resulted in a decrease in tobacco screen time for youth and adult rated movies (42.3 percent and 85.4 percent, respectively). Alcohol brand product appearances in youth-rated movies trended upward during the period from 80 to 145 per year, an increase of 5.2 appearances per year.

"In summary, this study found dramatic declines in brand appearances for tobacco after such placements were prohibited by an externally monitored and enforced regulatory structure, even though such activity had already been prohibited in the self-regulatory structure a decade before. During the same period, alcohol brand placements, subject only to self-regulation, increased significantly in movies rated acceptable for youth audiences, a trend that could have implications for teen drinking," the study concludes.


Contact: Robin Dutcher
The JAMA Network Journals

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