Advertising for alcohol is prevalent in UK Television| Research Report

A recent study in the Journal of Public Health indicates that advertising for alcohol is common in British television, and is therefore a potential driver of alcohol use in young people.

It is estimated that the rate of alcohol consumption in those over 15 in the UK is the eighth highest in Europe. Alcohol use was responsible for at least 6813 deaths in the country in 2015, and cost the NHS £3.5 billion in 2013–14.

There is strong evidence that exposure to advertising or other alcohol imagery in the media increases subsequent use in adolescents. An estimated 28 million British households have at least one television and in 2015 the average viewing was 3 hours and 47 minutes a day. Previous studies have found that alcohol imagery appeared frequently in studies of UK television; some 40 per cent of programmes contained alcohol content.

In 2015, researchers quantified the content of all programmes and advertisements broadcast on the five, free access, national UK channels. The researchers here explored the differences in content between channels and genres, and compared these with the findings of a similar study in 2010.

A total of 611 programmes and 1140 commercials were recorded during the peak viewing hours, between 6 and 10 pm, from Monday to Sunday in three separate weeks. Alcohol imagery occurred most frequently in the news, current affairs programmes, and soap operas.

This study demonstrates that alcohol imagery is extremely common on UK television, occurring in over 50% of all programmes broadcast and almost 50% of all advertising periods between programmes. The majority of alcohol content occurred before 9 pm. Branding occurred in 18% of programmes and 11% of advertisement periods and involved 122 brands, though three brands (Heineken, Corona, and Fosters) accounted for almost half of all brand appearances.

Alcohol content shown on TV has an effect on the uptake of alcohol use in young people. This analysis shows that television remains a major source of alcohol exposure to young people in the UK and is likely to continue to be a contributor to alcohol uptake by young people, with levels of content slightly higher than the researchers observed in the earlier analysis of programme content from 2010.

“There is strong evidence that viewing alcohol advertising or imagery has an uptake on subsequent alcohol use in young people,” says Dr Alex Barker, a UKCTAS funded Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham.

“Our study shows that alcohol imagery, including branding, is regularly broadcast on prime-time TV, when children and adolescents are likely to be watching. Tighter scheduling rules from the Advertising Standards Agency and Ofcom (broadcast regulator), such as restricting alcohol advertisements and alcohol imagery in programmes, to after the 9 p.m. watershed, could prevent children and adolescents being exposed to this content.”

Direct correct questions about the study to:
Alexander B. Barker
UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies
Division of Epidemiology and Public Health
University of Nottingham
Clinical Sciences Building
City Hospital, Nottingham
NG5 1PB, UK
alexander.barker@nottingham.ac.uk

To request a copy of the study, please contact:
Cassie Jane Buckley
CassieJane.Buckley@oup.com

Sharing on social media? Find Oxford Journals online at @OxfordJournals
Please acknowledge the Journal of Public Health as a source in any articles.
DOI: 10.1093/pubmed/fdy142

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Tobacco content still common on UK prime time TV, despite regulations | Research Report

Tobacco content still common on UK prime time TV, despite regulations

Likely to heavily influence young people’s take-up of smoking, say researchers

Tobacco content remains common on UK prime time TV,  cropping up in a third of all programmes, despite advertising and broadcasting regulations designed to protect children from this kind of exposure, reveals research published online in the journal Tobacco Control.

The amount of exposure has hardly changed in five years, and is likely to heavily influence young people’s take-up of smoking, say the researchers.

Tobacco content in film has been covered extensively, but relatively little attention has been paid to its inclusion on prime time TV, despite the fact that children are likely to spend more time watching TV than they are films, they point out.

The researchers therefore analysed the tobacco content of all programmes, adverts, and trailers broadcast on the five national free to air TV channels between 1800 and 2200 hours during the course of three separate weeks in September, October, and November 2015.

Their analysis included any actual or implied use, such as holding a cigarette without smoking it, or making a comment about smoking; smoking/tobacco paraphernalia; and presence of branding in 1 minute intervals. The results were then compared with those of a similar analysis carried out in 2010.

In all, 420 hours of broadcast footage, including 611 programmes, 909 adverts, and 211 trailers, were analysed.

Some 291 broadcasts (17% of all programmes) included tobacco content. The channel with the most tobacco content was Channel 5, and the one with the least was BBC2.

Tobacco content occurred in one in three TV programmes broadcast, and nearly one in 10 (8%) adverts or trailers.

Actual tobacco use occurred in one in eight (12%) programmes, while tobacco related content–primarily no smoking signs–occurred in just 2 percent of broadcasts. Implied use and branding were rare.

 

Although most tobacco content occurred after the 9 pm watershed, it still occurred on the most popular TV channels before then.  And comparison with the previous analysis in 2010 showed that the number of 1 minute intervals containing any tobacco content increased, rising from 731 to 751 in 2015.

Tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, including paid product placement in TV adverts, is banned in the UK, but tobacco imagery in TV programmes and trailers is exempt, and covered instead by media regulator, OfCom’s, broadcasting code.

This code is designed to protect children by restricting depictions of tobacco use in children’s programmes, and preventing the glamorisation of smoking in programmes broadcast before 9 pm.

“Audiovisual tobacco content remains common in prime-time UK television programmes and is likely to be a significant driver of smoking uptake in young people,” emphasise the researchers.

“Guidelines on tobacco content need to be revised and more carefully enforced to protect children from exposure to tobacco imagery and the consequent risk of smoking initiation,” they added.

‘The number of smokers in the UK has fallen significantly since 2010 yet this research finds smoking is just as common on our screens. Given the proven link to childhood smoking Ofcom and the BBFC, which regulate TV and films, need to take the necessary steps to warn parents of the risks and protect our children from the harmful effects of tobacco imagery.’ 

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health.


Notes for editors:

Research:  Content analysis of tobacco content in UK television doi 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2018-054427

Journal: Tobacco Control

Link to Academy of Medical Sciences press release labelling system: http://press.psprings.co.uk/AMSlabels.pdf

Author contact: Dr Alex Barker, Division of Epidemiology & Public Health, UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK. Email: alexander.barker@nottingham.ac.uk

Other links:
Tobacco on TV influences children, study finds | iNews

Smoking scenes are still common in a THIRD of prime time TV programmes despite strict regulations to protect children, finds study | Daily Mail

Congratulations to Suzi Gage for winning the AAAS Early Career Public Engagement Award!

Suzanne Gage, a scientist whose podcast, “Say Why To Drugs,” has received over 264,000 listens, has been chosen by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to receive the 2016 Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science.

screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-09-32-03Gage recently completed her post-doctoral research in the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit at the University of Bristol, and is now a scientist at the University of Liverpool. She also founded “Sifting the Evidence,” a blog on The Guardian’s website in which she examines epidemiology, mental health and substance abuse. She is being honored by AAAS for “her evidence-based approach to public engagement activities and targeting audiences who may not be actively seeking science information.”

Gage is a “highly talented, enthusiastic and energetic young researcher who promises to be a real star of the future,” wrote Marcus Munafò, a professor of biological psychology at the University of Bristol, where Gage was a post-doctoral research associate until December. Through her blog and podcast, Munafò wrote, “Suzi has worked tirelessly to provide information to the general public about the scientific evidence surrounding the effects of recreational drugs.”

Her podcast, which she was inspired to produce after appearing on rapper Scroobius Pip’s podcast, discusses a different recreational drug in each episode. Gage aims to counter misinformation and myths surrounding various substances. Munafò noted that Pip’s involvement in the podcast has helped Gage reach an audience of young adults who might not otherwise receive the information. Pip emphasized that the program is not meant to condone drug use.

“This is not a pro-drugs podcast, this is not anti-drugs podcast,” Pip explained, “this is pro-truth and anti-myth.”

The podcast has topped the Science and Medicine chart in the iTunes store and has received support on Twitter, including from Virgin Group founder Richard Branson. It also won the Skeptic Magazine 2016 Ockham Award for Best Podcast. Munafò wrote that the show has also been used by teachers to introduce their students to evidence-based thinking.

Gage has also traveled across the United Kingdom, speaking at “Skeptics in the Pub,” evening events hosted by local organizations to promote critical thinking. She has spoken at the Royal Institution of Great Britain and music festivals in the UK.

She engaged with younger audiences in 2011 by participating in “I’m a Scientist, Get Me Out of Here,” an online event where students meet and interact with scientists. The scientists compete with one other, answering questions about science and their research that are provided by students, who then vote for their favorite scientist. Gage won in the “Brain Zone” category and used the winnings to start her podcast.

Gage’s work in public engagement was recognized in 2012, when she won the UK Science Blog Prize, and in 2013, when she received the British Association for Psychopharmacology Public Communication Award. She has also written for The Economist, The Telegraph and The Lancet Psychiatry.

Gage’s recent scientific work in studying the relationship between health behaviors and mental health outcomes has included investigating causal associations from observational studies, with particular emphasis on substance use and mental health. She earned a Master of Science degree in cognitive neuropsychology from University College London in 2005 and a Ph.D. in translational epidemiology from the University of Bristol in 2014. Her research also earned her the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology Travel Award in 2012. More recently, she received the Society for Research in Nicotine and Tobacco’s 2015 Basic Science Network Travel Award.

The AAAS Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science was established in 2010 to recognize “early-career scientists and engineers who demonstrate excellence in their contribution to public engagement with science activities.” The recipient receives a monetary prize of $5,000, a commemorative plaque, complimentary registration to the AAAS Annual Meeting and reimbursement for reasonable travel and hotel expenses to attend the AAAS Annual Meeting to receive the prize.

The award will be bestowed upon Gage during the 183rd AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, Feb. 16-20, 2017. The AAAS Awards Ceremony and Reception will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 17, in the Republic Ballroom of the Sheraton Boston Hotel.

images-duckduckgo-comSuzanne Gage completed her post-doctoral research at the University of Bristol and is now a scientist at the University of Liverpool. She has written for The GuardianThe Economist, The Telegraph and The Lancet Psychiatry.

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Dr Jo Cranwell discusses alcohol content & advertising in the media at a meeting of the European Parliament | University of Bath

Dr Jo Cranwell, Assistant Professor in Public Health at the University of Bath and UKCTAS research fellow delivered the keynote presentation at a meeting of the European Parliament held to discuss the revision of the Audio Visual Media Services Directive. (The EU’s Audiovisual Media Services Directive governs EU-wide coordination of national legislation on all audiovisual media, both traditional TV broadcasts and on-demand services.)

Jo was invited as a keynote speaker to discuss the work conducted by researchers at the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies on alcohol content and advertising in traditional and digital media.

Here are a few pictures from the meeting:

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To see more about tobacco and alcohol content in the media click here!

Teenagers who play video games with alcohol & tobacco content are more likely to drink & smoke.

Images and references to alcohol and tobacco in popular video games may be influencing UK teens who play the games and the age restriction system is not working, according to a new study. 

Experts from the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies at The University of Nottingham have carried out the first ever analysis of best-selling video games to find out the extent to which the games include this content and to assess the link between playing the games and drinking and smoking behaviour.

They found that teenagers who play video games featuring alcohol and tobacco references appeared to be directly influenced because they were twice as likely to have tried smoking or drinking themselves.

‘Cut scenes’ on YouTube

The research examined the content of 32 UK best-selling video games of 2012/2013 and carried out a large online survey of adolescents playing games with alcohol and tobacco content. An analysis of ‘cut scenes’ uploaded by gamers to YouTube from the five most popular games was also carried out. All the games studied were from the genres of stealth, action adventure, open world, shooter and survival/horror because they involve avatars that look and act like real people.

The study, published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, found alcohol and tobacco content in 44% of the most popular video games. They also found this content was not reported by the official regulator, the Pan-European Games Information (PEGI) system which informs the Video Standards Council age ratings that help parents decide whether game content is suitable for their children.

Subliminal messages

The researchers used YouGov survey tools to ask 1,094 UK adolescents aged 11-17 whether they had played any of the most popular video games identified as containing either tobacco or alcohol imagery. They were also asked whether and to what extent they smoked or drank alcohol. The study found that adolescents who had played at least one game with tobacco or alcohol content were twice as likely to have tried smoking or consumed alcohol themselves.

Out of the top five most popular games, Grand Theft Auto V & VI contained the highest level of alcohol and smoking content using fictitious brands only. The other top games containing these references were Call of Duty:Black Ops II, Call of Duty:Modern Warfare 3 and Assassin’s Creed III. There was no electronic cigarette content.

Video and Film
FIG. 1.  Percentage of total coding intervals containing alcohol content by category in the five games.
Video and Film
FIG. 2.  Percentage of total coding intervals containing tobacco content by category in the five games.

 

Psychologist Dr Joanne Cranwell from the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, said:

”Although around 54% of UK adolescents play video games online, parental concern over exposure to inappropriate content while playing video games seems to be lower than for other media, like movies for example. While 80% of children aged 10-15 play packaged or online video games with an age rating higher than their age, more than half of British parents are unaware of the harmful content this exposes them to.

Video games are clearly attractive to adolescents regardless of age classification. It appears that official PEGI content descriptors are failing to restrict youth access to age inappropriate content. We think that the PEGI system needs to include both alcohol and tobacco in their content descriptors. Also, game developers could be offered incentives to reduce the amount of smoking and drinking in their games or to at least reference smoking and drinking on their packaging and websites.

As a child protection method it is naïve for both the games industry and the Interactive Software Federation of Europe, who regulate the PEGI system, to rely on age ratings alone. Future research should focus on identifying the levels of exposure in terms of dose that youth gamers are exposed to during actual gameplay and the effects of this on long- term alcohol and smoking behaviour.”

A copy of the full paper is online here: Alcohol and tobacco content in UK video games and their association with alcohol and tobacco use among young people.

News Reports:

Teenagers influenced by video games with alcohol, smoking content – ScienceDaily

Nottingham study finds teenagers ‘are influenced’ by smoking and alcohol in video games – NottsTV

GRAND THEFT WARNING – Teenagers who play video games are ‘TWICE as likely to smoke and drink alcohol’ – TheSUN

Teens who play Grand Theft Auto are ‘twice as likely to smoke or drink alcohol’ – AngleNews

Does YOUR teenager play Grand Theft Auto? They are ‘twice as likely to smoke or drink alcohol’ – DailyMail