Report: Smoking in hip-hop videos on the rise

A team of US researchers report that forty-four percent of the most popular hip-hop videos between 2013 and 2017 featured smoking or use of vapor products — up from thirty percent of rap videos in 1997. 

Brand display in the videos that showed combustible tobacco products grew from zero in 2013 to ten percent five years later. One in four videos showing an electronic product displayed brand names in 2013; by 2017, eighty-eight percent also showed the brands.  

The study led by Dartmouth's Kristen E. Knutsen MPH, released online on 15 October 2018, found that tobacco, marijuana or e-cigarette use varied from a low of forty percent of videos in 2015 to fifty-one percent in 2016. In all, the videos with this imagery were viewed 39.5 billion times. The authors comment:

Although no musical artists disclosed payment for brand placement, brand placement may constitute paid endorsement... 

Combustible and electronic cigarette use by prominent artists and overt product placement poses public health harm to adolescents and young adults, especially among those who identify with hip-hop subculture. Hip-hop videos may be a substantial source of exposure to tobacco use, which may increase the risk of cigarette smoking initiation and sustained cigarette smoking.

For comparison | Over the same five-year period, according to the Breathe California-UCSF Onscreen Tobacco Database, forty-nine percent of top-grossing US movies showed tobacco or e-cigarette use. These films were viewed 2.3 billion times in theaters alone and delivered 85 billion tobacco impressions (paid admissions X tobacco incidents) to domestic moviegoers of all ages.

As in the hip-hop videos studied, a majority (53%) of the smokers in films were leads or credited co-stars. Ten percent of the films with smoking displayed actual tobacco or vapor brands.