Press Releases

2001 Releases

Depiction of Alcohol and Tobacco Use in G-Rated Animated Films Still High Despite Decline

For immediate release: June 04, 2001 

Boston, MA--A study by researchers of the Harvard School of Public Health's Center for Risk Analysis finds that nearly half of all the G-rated animated feature films show alcohol and tobacco use as normal behavior and offer no warnings about the health consequences of using these substances.  Although the study authors, Assistant Professor Kimberly M. Thompson and Doctoral Candidate Fumie Yokota, reported the encouraging finding that the depiction of tobacco and alcohol use in these films is decreasing, they also note that the "trends do not provide a strong indication of a commitment from the film industry to eliminate the depiction of alcohol and tobacco use in G-rated animated films."

The new study, published in the current edition of the journal Pediatrics, finds that use of tobacco or alcohol is not limited to "bad guys." Characters categorized as good, neutral, or bad accounted for a nearly equal division of tobacco and alcohol use. The 1945 Disney film "The Three Caballeros" had the highest amount of tobacco exposure at nearly 10 and a half minutes while "Sleeping Beauty" had the longest amount for exposure to alcohol at nearly three minutes.

Wine was the most commonly consumed form of alcohol (39%), followed by beer (24%), champagne (20%), and spirits  hard liquor (17%).  Cigars were the most commonly used tobacco product (67%), followed by pipe smoking (14%), cigarettes (11%), other tobacco products (5%), and a combination of products (3%).

The authors suggest that while the Federal Trade Commission considers issues related to marketing violent entertainment to children it should not overlook other film content that might be of concern to parents.  The authors emphasize that parents and pediatricians should be aware of children's exposure to tobacco and alcohol use in entertainment marketed to children.

The study was funded by a private gift from Mitchell Dong and Robin LaFoley Dong to the Harvard School of Public Health.  For more information about the paper, check out the Kids Risk Project web site for answers to Frequently Asked Questions about this study.

The Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, part of The Harvard School of Public Health, is supported by funds from government, industry, academia and individuals, and promotes a reasoned response to risk to public health, safety, and the environment.

To download a reprint of the article, please visit the Pediatrics site at: http://www.pediatrics.org/cgi/reprint/107/6/1369


For further information, please contact:

Robin Herman
Office of Communications
Harvard School of Public Health
677 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
Phone: 617-432-4752
Email: rherman@hsph.harvard.edu

David Ropeik
Director of Risk Communication
Harvard Center for Risk Analysis
Phone: 617 432-6011

Kimberly M. Thompson, Sc.D., 
Assistant Professor of Risk Analysis and Decision Science
Phone: 617 432-4285

Fumie Yokota, MS, Doctoral Candidate
Phone: 617 432-2019