Sara Bellum
March 9 2011

So you’re watching American Idol and you notice that the judges are all drinking from Coke cups. It’s pretty obvious that Coca Cola paid for that not-so-subtle endorsement. Well, that's called “product placement,” and it’s everywhere---it’s also nothing new.

Some people who’ve studied this believe that the first product placement in America happened in 1909, when the tobacco industry advertised on baseball cards. More than 100 years later, the tobacco and alcohol industries are sneaking their products into music and movies to influence people to buy them.

Unfortunately, it seems to work: research shows, for example, that teens who see a lot of smoking in movies are more likely to start smoking themselves—good business for tobacco companies, since they can make more money when smokers start young.

Check out NIDA’s Drugs: Shatter The Myths brochure, which mentions a study showing that of the top 90 movies released within the past two decades, 70 percent showed characters smoking, and 33 percent showed people getting drunk. The study also looked at music and found that 33 percent of songs have some mention of drug, alcohol, or tobacco use (75 percent of rap songs).

Here’s a different idea: think for yourself and make healthy choices about what to put in your body.

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