Content analysis of tobacco imagery in popular music Videos, 2018–2021

Jessica M. Rath, Brenda Dimaya, Katie M. O'Connor, Jennifer M. Kreslake, Donna M. Vallone, Elizabeth C. Hair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Exposure to tobacco imagery in movies and television has been identified as a key factor to youth smoking initiation (Davis, 2008; Bennett et al., 2020). This study aims to investigate the prevalence of tobacco imagery in popular music videos from 2018 to 2021. The weekly top 10 songs of 2018–2021 were identified using Billboard Charts categories (Hot 100, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop, Country, Rock & Alternative, Dance/Electronic, Pop Airplay). Content analyses of the top music videos using the Thumbs up Thumbs Down methodology were conducted to identify tobacco depictions on screen. The sample consisted of 1,008 music videos across four years; 196 of which contained tobacco imagery (19.4%). Between 2018 and 2021, the proportion of videos with tobacco imagery ranged between 12.8% and 23.0% of the total year sample. Tobacco incidences almost doubled from 280 occurrences in 2018 to 522 occurrences in 2020, but decreased by over half to 290 occurrences in 2021. Tobacco incidences varied by year and genre, with Hot 100 being the top offending genre in 2018 with 40.0% of videos containing tobacco imagery while Hot R&B/Hip-Hop was the top offending genre from 2019 to 2021 (52.7%, 52.5%, and 23.9% respectively). Cigarettes were most pervasive in 2019 (70.1% of total tobacco incidences), 2020 (45.6%), and 2021 (64.1%) music videos. Pipes were the most pervasive product in 2018 music videos (39.6%). Given the reach and frequency of exposure to music videos among young people, reducing tobacco imagery in popular music videos may prevent tobacco use among young people.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102188
JournalPreventive Medicine Reports
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • Media
  • Prevention
  • Tobacco
  • Vaping
  • Youth/Young Adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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