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Hollywood on tobacco: how the entertainment industry understands tobacco portrayal
  1. David L L Shieldsa,
  2. Julia Carola,
  3. Edith D Balbachb,
  4. Sarah McGeea
  1. aAmerican Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation, Berkeley, California, USA, bTufts University, Medford, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Julia Carol, ANR Foundation, 2530 San Pablo Avenue, Suite J, Berkeley, California 94702, USA;juliac{at}


OBJECTIVE To determine how people in the California-based entertainment industry think about the portrayal of tobacco use in movies and on television. Specifically, to explore who decides when to include tobacco in a project; how that decision is made; what issues are considered; what messages are intended; whether and how the issue of secondhand smoke is considered; and what advocacy methods might be useful in influencing future decisions about tobacco portrayal.

DESIGN Qualitative in-depth interviews of entertainment industry personnel,with a semi-structured interview protocol to guide the interview.

SUBJECTS 54 subjects drawn from a convenience sample of writers, actors, directors, producers, studio executives, and others involved in the film industry.

RESULTS Hollywood is heterogeneous with varying perspectives on rates of tobacco use portrayal; intentionality of the decision to use and the necessity to portray tobacco use; and its degree of acceptance of responsibility for influencing societal smoking. Tobacco depiction may originate with the writer, actor, or director and is included most frequently to elucidate character or portray reality. On-camera smoking is influenced by actors' off-camera tobacco use.

CONCLUSIONS The research presented can help advocates better understand the norms and values of those working within the entertainment industry and thereby assist them in creating more effective change strategies.

  • films
  • movies
  • television
  • tobacco use

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