See smoking on TV? You're not the only one.

A new report from Truth Initiative (Washington, DC) finds nearly 80 percent of TV shows with the most young viewers showcase smoking.

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"Content is the new commercial and it has to stop."

—Robin Koval, Truth Initiative CEO and president

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After surveying full seasons of top shows and reviewing the harm to kids from on-screen smoking, Truth Initiative poses three "critical questions":

  • Do streaming entertainment companies have a particular responsibility to address these issues, given the outsize impact on young audiences?
  • Tobacco companies have a long, documented history of exploiting movies and TV to push their products. Are new streaming services now being exploited?
  • Should streaming services receive tax incentives provided by states to produce content that promotes smoking—the nation's leading cause of preventable death?

Overlap with movies

Smokefree Movies' initial TV surveys, reported in our latest ad in The Hollywood Reporter and Variety, finds many of the same companies under pressure to make kids' movies smokefree make or broadcast TV series with smoking.

Many of these companies took Big Tobacco's money before Congress banned tobacco commercials in 1970. Some of their big-screen movies are listed on Big Tobacco's product placement lists from the 1980s and 1990s.

All the major studios have tobacco depiction policies supposedly aimed at reducing kids' exposure to tobacco on screen. None extend to TV—yet.

Take the next steps

Truth's researchers asked the first-order question: Is smoking on TV getting to kids? The answer is yes. Follow-up questions demand quick answers:

  • How many kids get how much exposure from TV smoking?
  • Which companies are accountable for this exposure? Which aren't?
  • Kids' in-theater exposure has declined recently. Is TV replacing or surpassing film?
  • What corporate behavior-change strategies are needed, especially in the unregulated streaming sector?

Fortunately, we have successful research and policy formation models—and a seamless health coalition ready to act when children are threatened.

See smoking on TV? You're not the only one.

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Resources

Download Truth Initiative report

Read exclusive USA Today coverage (with video)

• SFM ad | Who wants tobacco back on TV?

• SFM infographic | How long has Big Tobacco bought its way on screen?

• SFM blog | Netflix "not worried" about smoking in kids' shows?