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Study finds tobacco imagery persists in TV, movies & music videos viewed by young audiences

WASHINGTON, D.C. — It’s no surprise that 2020 was a big year for streaming — in a scary, unprecedented year, entertainment provided viewers with a source of escape and comfort while staying at home.

But a new report from Truth Initiative, an anti-smoking group, says that watching some of the year’s biggest TV shows, movies and music videos also exposed young people to frequent scenes of smoking and vaping imagery, which studies have proven increases the likelihood of them trying some form of tobacco.

Truth Initiative’s study of streaming in 2020, released Tuesday and obtained exclusively by USA TODAY, estimates that 27 million young people were exposed to smoking and vaping imagery in 2020 from streaming shows alone.

“That behavior has become so prevalent among all of us, but especially among young people during the pandemic when everybody was stuck at home and watching more content than ever,” says Truth Initiative CEO Robin Koval.

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