206828 Smoking is so hot: Portrayal of women smoking in reality tv

Monday, November 9, 2009: 11:24 AM

Phoebe Butler-Ajibade, EdD , Department of Human Performance and Leisure Studies, North Carolina A & T State University, Greensboro, NC
Numerous studies have reported that tobacco use is frequently depicted in the popular media, including movies, daytime and primetime television, and music videos (Dalton et al, 2002; Gerber & Ozyegin, 1997). Research has also asserted that viewing such images in the media can influence the beliefs and behaviors of viewers regarding tobacco use. Youth are particularly susceptible to tobacco messages in the media; in fact, recent studies of youth have found significant relationships between teen smoking and increased exposure to smoking in movies (Glantz et al, 2007). This study utilized content analysis to code 20 top-rated reality television shows. Images of females smoking, roles of the females in the shows and the activities that they were doing while smoking was recorded. Few of the shows had episodes that were completely smoke-free.

Smoking was prevalent in the majority of the reality television shows. The female smokers portrayed smoking as being glamorous, sexy, normal and fun. Several shows portrayed groups of females smoking, while other shows portrayed females smoking during romantic interactions with males. Numerous shows displayed smoking while drinking. Recent research has indicated a pattern of tobacco advertisements containing alcohol use in magazines targeting teens.

As the popularity of reality television escalates, it appears that images of smoking are becoming a major activity in the shows. The actors send a powerful endorsement of tobacco use to viewers. Because tobacco remains the leading behavioral cause of death in the United States, the implications of media messages promoting tobacco use remain daunting.

Learning Objectives:
To describe images of tobacco use by females on reality tv shows. To analyze implications of tobacco images on reality tv shows.

Keywords: Tobacco, Women

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have conducted several qualitatve research studies on images of tobacco use in the media and tobacco advertising strategies.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.