J Epidemiol Community Health 70:488-492 doi:10.1136/jech-2015-206402
  • Research report

Adult and adolescent exposure to tobacco and alcohol content in contemporary YouTube music videos in Great Britain: a population estimate

Open AccessPress Release
  1. John Britton
  1. Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Jo Cranwell, Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, University of Nottingham, Clinical Sciences Building, City Hospital, Nottingham NG5 1PB, UK; Joanne.Cranwell{at}
  • Received 22 July 2015
  • Revised 12 November 2015
  • Accepted 17 November 2015
  • Published Online First 14 January 2016


Background We estimate exposure of British adults and adolescents to tobacco and alcohol content from a sample of popular YouTube music videos.

Methods British viewing figures were generated from 2 representative online national surveys of adult and adolescent viewing of the 32 most popular videos containing content. 2068 adolescents aged 11–18 years (1010 boys, 1058 girls), and 2232 adults aged 19+years (1052 male, 1180 female) completed the surveys. We used the number of 10 s intervals in the 32 most popular videos containing content to estimate the number of impressions. We extrapolated gross and per capita impressions for the British population from census data and estimated numbers of adults and adolescents who had ever watched the sampled videos.

Results From video release to the point of survey, the videos delivered an estimated 1006 million gross impressions of alcohol (95% CI 748 to 1264 million), and 203 million of tobacco (95% CI 151 to 255 million), to the British population. Per capita exposure was around 5 times higher for alcohol than for tobacco, and nearly 4 times higher in adolescents, who were exposed to an average of 52.1 (95% CI 43.4 to 60.9) and 10.5 (95% CI 8.8 to 12.3) alcohol and tobacco impressions, respectively, than in adults (14.1 (95% CI 10.2 to 18.1) and 2.9 (95% CI 2.1 to 3.6)). Exposure rates were higher in girls than in boys.

Conclusions YouTube music videos deliver millions of gross impressions of alcohol and tobacco content. Adolescents are exposed much more than adults. Music videos are a major global medium of exposure to such content.

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