TitleCoverage of smokeless tobacco in US newspapers and news wires
NameWackowski, Olivia (author), Lewis, M. Jane (chair), Delnevo, Cristine D (internal member), Clifford, Patrick R (internal member), Ling, Pamela M (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
Smokeless tobacco--United States,
Advertising—Smokeless tobacco--United States,
Tobacco use—Health aspects--United States
DescriptionBackground. Tobacco use remains a significant public health issue in the United States. Although smokeless tobacco (SLT) use is less prevalent than smoking, SLT sales are on the rise and include new products featuring cigarette brand names aimed at smokers. While some tobacco control professionals have argued that SLT may provide a less harmful alternative for smokers unable or unwilling to quit, others argue that SLT promotion could result in harmful consequences, e.g., uptake among new users. Despite a lack of consensus on the appropriateness of SLT for harm reduction or related messaging, such information is being communicated to the public through news stories. Coverage of SLT is significant given the news media’s role in shaping readers’ knowledge and attitudes. This study provides the first description of SLT in the news, exploring the types of topics covered, health and risk information presented, and slant of opinion articles. Methods. A content analysis was conducted on SLT-related news and opinion articles from top circulating national and state newspapers and select wire services. Articles between 2006 and 2010 were obtained from electronic news databases and coded for various SLT-relevant variables including: product attributes, SLT associations, prevalence and sales trends, health references and overall main SLT article topic. Results. Among news/feature articles (n=677), these main SLT topics included business news (28%), new products, product regulation and harm reduction (19%), prevention/cessation (11.4%), taxes (10.2%), profiles/trends in use (9%), bans (8.1%), and tobacco industry promotional activities (4.9%). While references to health risks (i.e., addictiveness, carcinogenicity and specific health effects) were found in 40% of news articles, various “pro” SLT messages were also found, including references to SLT as less harmful than smoking (16.5%). Articles, particularly those about new products, also referred to other SLT attributes potentially perceived as beneficial over smoking (e.g., ability to use indoors). Although the majority of opinion articles (n=176) conveyed an anti-SLT slant (64%), 25.6% were pro-SLT. Conclusions. Future research should explore the extent with which the public has been exposed to SLT news stories and ways in which they interpret and are impacted by included information, particularly that related to SLT risks and potential benefits.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.