Tobacco and alcohol in British soap operas

New publication examines tobacco and alcohol content in soap operas broadcast on UK television

07 July 2020

It is already known that exposure to tobacco and alcohol content in media is a risk factor for smoking and alcohol use in young people. 

Alex Barker and team at the University of Nottingham have published the results of a recent study that reviewed tobacco and alcohol content in soap operas broadcast on UK Television across a sample of 87 episodes of Eastenders, Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Hollyoaks, Neighbours and Home and Away.

Tobacco content rare, alcohol common

The research, in the Journal of Public Health, showed that whilst tobacco content was rare (occurring in 4% of 1-minute intervals), alcohol content was seen in 24% of intervals across 95% of episodes.

This sample of soap episodes delivered 381 million tobacco impressions and 2.1 billion alcohol impressions to the UK population, including 18 million tobacco and 113 million alcohol impressions to children under 16.

Concerning use of real brands alongside fictional

The team discovered that were more alcohol and tobacco content contained within UK soaps compared to Australian soaps. Of particular concern is the use of genuine brands being displayed alongside fictional brands - which calls in to question why genuine brands are used in the first place.

Read the publication in the Journal of Public Health