Big Tobacco has known the power of the media for decades and has a long history with the entertainment industry. The tobacco industry uses tobacco imagery and brand identification on screen to both normalize and glamorize tobacco use.

Teens consume more media than ever, watching an average of almost 11 hours of media in any given day. The media youth consume is often completely unregulated, giving the tobacco industry direct access to teens’ daily lives.

Here are some quotes from RC teens on how they think social media plays a role in their lives:

“Social media makes it easier to communicate but also can be bad because we are exposed to things we probably shouldn’t be.” Age 13

“I spend more time in the bathroom.” Age 13

“Social media is a positive impact on my life because I can reach out to people and learn about new things. It also helps people to understand different points of view.” Age 15

“It’s where I get my news a lot of the time. I use it to talk to my friends a lot. I can share my ideas and find more people who have think and believe the same as me. Plus, it’s entertaining!” Age 15


Infographic courtesy of CDC Smoking and Tobacco Use- Smoking in the Movie

 “A significant downward trend occurred in the number of tobacco incidents in youth-rated films between 2005 and 2010, but incidents were essentially flat from 2010 through 2018. Had the average rate of decline in tobacco incidents per year observed between 2005 and 2010 been maintained, tobacco incidents would have been eliminated from all youth-rated films by early 2015.” To learn more, visit UCSF’s Smoke Free Movies page here.

Reality Check aims to expose the tobacco industry and de-normalize and de-glamorize tobacco use on screen.

How We Speak Out

  • Reality Check youth hold events at movie theaters to highlight the influence that smoking in movies has on youth

  • YouTube flagging project gets youth involved in having videos of underage youth promoting smoking removed from YouTube

  • Write letters to editors

  • Hold press events

  • Meet with elected officials.

To learn more about Reality Check’s work with smoke-free media, check out our Smoke Free Media Guide developed in 2012 by Reality Check Coordinators.

SFM Guide – downloadable PDF