Music Videos and Songs Addicted to Smoking, Study Says

Half of the most popular music among youth in the San Francisco Bay Area includes references to smoking or tobacco, according to a new City of Berkeley study.

The researchers analyzed 79 of the top-playing songs on radio stations catering to listeners in the 12-to-24 age group in the Bay Area. It found that 49.4 percent of the songs had references to smoking in the lyrics, and 51.3 percent included smoking imagery in their music videos.

Conducted by the city’s Tobacco Prevention Program, the study found that smoking is so pervasive in music videos that, even among songs with no references to smoking, 30 percent of the videos had smoking scenes.

The Berkeley study’s authors worry that, after decades of being stigmatized as uncool, smoking is once again gaining strength as a sign of sophistication among young people. The impact of this could be significant; a Dartmouth study referenced by Berkeley found that when comparing youths who had witnessed a great deal of smoking in movies to those who had seen very little, the former group was three times as likely to begin smoking.

FairWarning reported in July that after close to a decade of significant drops, the number of high school smokers has hovered around 20 percent since 2003.

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