Get Smart

Smoking is rampant in hiphop videos and that could be a public health problem

Many hiphop videos contain depictions of smoking tobacco and/or marijuana, a study finds.
Many hiphop videos contain depictions of smoking tobacco and/or marijuana, a study finds.(Shutterstock/Pe3k)

Forty to 50 percent of the top hip-hop videos from 2013 to 2017 contained depictions of tobacco or marijuana smoking or vaping, according to a new study that raises questions about the videos’ impact on young people.

“These depictions may affect fans’ attitudes toward smoking and increase the likelihood of smoking,” Kristin Knutzen, a research scientist at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, who was the study’s lead author, said in a statement.

“The frequent use of combustible and electronic tobacco and marijuana products in popular hip-hop music videos, the genre’s broad appeal, and the use of branded products by prominent artists may contribute to a growing public health concern,” the study said.


Researchers from both the institute and the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health worked on the study, which was published recently in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Researchers are concerned about the effect of the videos on both youth tobacco smoking and marijuana smoking, said Samir Soneji, an associate professor at the Dartmouth Institute who was a study coauthor.

Researchers looked at 796 videos that were on Billboard magazine’s weekly Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs list between 2013 and 2017.

The researchers noted that one of the limitations of their study was that they couldn’t tell whether hand-rolled cigarettes shown in the videos were filled with tobacco, marijuana, or a mix of the two. Hand-rolled cigarettes were the leading category of smoking, the researchers noted.

The researchers expressed concern that music videos provide “largely unregulated opportunities” for the advertising of tobacco and marijuana products, but they said federal and state regulation could help. They also said that the music industry and social media sites could take steps to reduce the depiction of tobacco and marijuana use in the videos.

Martin Finucane can be reached at Martin.Finucane@Globe.com.