Objective: To examine time trends in the portrayal of smoking in a national collection of portraiture and to compare this with the similar trends for television and film.
Methods: A compact disc produced by the National Portrait Gallery in London, UK, was systematically searched for artworks produced in the years 1950 to 1999. A “smoking portrayal” in an artwork was defined as having a cigarette, cigar or pipe in the mouth or hand of a named individual.
Results: Out of 1063 artworks included in the analysis, 53 portrayed smoking by identifiable individuals (5.0%). The rate of portrayal was highest in the 1950s (10%) and 1960s (11%) and then declined sharply thereafter (p value for trend < 0.00001). Smoking virtually disappeared from portraiture in the 1990s (at 0.6%). The median age of the smokers portrayed was significantly higher in the 1970 to 1999 period when compared to the 1950 to 1969 period.
Conclusions: The decline of smoking in this collection of portraiture is consistent with the decline in smoking in the UK over these decades, but contrasts with trends for increasing smoking portrayal described elsewhere for film and television.
- trends in smoking
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