Research & Resources

Comparing the Prevalence of Alcohol, Combustible and Electronic Cigarettes, Hookah, and Marijuana, in Music Videos across 6 Genres of Popular Music from 2014-2020

In this study, researchers sought to determine the frequency of alcohol, marijuana, cigarette/cigar, e-cigarette, and hookah portrayals in popular music lyrics and videos on YouTube across 6 genres over 7 years. They assessed percentage changes over the years, documented brand placement, and determined the frequency of substance/device promotion by Teen Choice Award-winning celebrities. Researchers analyzed 699 songs from the Billboard Hot 100 chart between 2014 and 2020. On YouTube, the majority of songs (59.2%) included either lyrical or video depictions of substances/devices, while 20.6% included both lyrical and video depictions. Songs that featured substances/devices were viewed 148 billion times on YouTube as of February 2021. Nearly 25% of videos depicting substances/devices featured branding. Of the music celebrities who featured substances/devices in their videos, 43 received 1 or more Teen Choice Awards during the study period. Findings showed that popular music celebrities promoted substance use in their lyrics and music videos, easily accessible to children and adolescents. Some of the celebrities were highly popular and influential among adolescents. Findings supported the need to limit promotion of these substances/devices to youth by influencers to reduce substance use and misuse.

This paper, “Comparing the prevalence of alcohol, combustible and electronic cigarettes, hookah, and marijuana, in music videos across 6 genres of popular music from 2014-2020,” was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and published in the journal Substance use & misuse.

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