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Tobacco coverage in print media: the use of timing and themes by tobacco control supporters and opposition before a failed tobacco tax initiative.

Harris JK, Shelton SC, Moreland-Russell S, Luke DA - Tob Control (2009)

Bottom Line: Despite having the second lowest cigarette tax rate in the nation, Missouri was unsuccessful in passing its 2006 ballot initiative to raise the tax.Finally, tobacco control position varied significantly across article types (chi(2)=148.3, p<0.01), with letters to the editor being anti-tobacco control most often.Tobacco control advocates must consider public opinion, opposition pressure, timing and themes in tobacco-related media coverage when promoting policy change.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Center for Tobacco Policy Research, Saint Louis University School of Public Health, 3545 Lafayette Ave, Suite 300, St Louis, MO 63104, USA. harrisjk@slu.edu

ABSTRACT

Objective: Tobacco control policies gained ground nationwide in 2006, with voters in nine states approving legislation to strengthen clean indoor air policies and increase tobacco excise taxes. Despite having the second lowest cigarette tax rate in the nation, Missouri was unsuccessful in passing its 2006 ballot initiative to raise the tax. An important way to encourage health-related policy change such as increasing tobacco taxes is through media coverage of tobacco issues. We examined how tobacco issues were presented in Missouri's print media leading up to the 2006 election.

Methods: This study analysed 1263 articles with tobacco content published in 187 Missouri newspapers in the year before the election. Articles were coded for general and tobacco-related characteristics including article type (news story, editorial, letter to the editor), tobacco control position (pro, neutral, anti) and article theme (economic, health, political).

Results: Most articles were news stories (73.6%) and pro-tobacco control (63.8%). The proportion of anti-tobacco control articles increased significantly (chi(2)=104.9, p<0.001) the month before the election, driven by an increase in economically themed articles. Economic articles were published more often in counties with less voter support for the tax (F=5.68, p<0.01). Finally, tobacco control position varied significantly across article types (chi(2)=148.3, p<0.01), with letters to the editor being anti-tobacco control most often.

Conclusion: The media have a critical role in promoting public health goals and presenting health issues which influences formation of health policies. Tobacco control advocates must consider public opinion, opposition pressure, timing and themes in tobacco-related media coverage when promoting policy change.

Show MeSH
Dominant theme and position of letters to the editor, news stories and editorials.
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fig1: Dominant theme and position of letters to the editor, news stories and editorials.

Mentions: Articles were classified as anti-tobacco control (12.6%), neutral (23.6%) or pro-tobacco control (63.8%). There was a significant difference in the article position across the three article types (χ2=148.3, df=4, p<0.01). We conducted residual analysis to identify what was driving this significant result. Letters to the editor and editorials were more likely than expected to be anti-tobacco control, while news stories were less likely than expected to be anti-tobacco control. Additionally, observed frequencies were lower than expected for neutral letters to the editor and higher than expected for news stories. (figure 1).


Tobacco coverage in print media: the use of timing and themes by tobacco control supporters and opposition before a failed tobacco tax initiative.

Harris JK, Shelton SC, Moreland-Russell S, Luke DA - Tob Control (2009)

Dominant theme and position of letters to the editor, news stories and editorials.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License 1 - License 2
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2921260&req=5

fig1: Dominant theme and position of letters to the editor, news stories and editorials.
Mentions: Articles were classified as anti-tobacco control (12.6%), neutral (23.6%) or pro-tobacco control (63.8%). There was a significant difference in the article position across the three article types (χ2=148.3, df=4, p<0.01). We conducted residual analysis to identify what was driving this significant result. Letters to the editor and editorials were more likely than expected to be anti-tobacco control, while news stories were less likely than expected to be anti-tobacco control. Additionally, observed frequencies were lower than expected for neutral letters to the editor and higher than expected for news stories. (figure 1).

Bottom Line: Despite having the second lowest cigarette tax rate in the nation, Missouri was unsuccessful in passing its 2006 ballot initiative to raise the tax.Finally, tobacco control position varied significantly across article types (chi(2)=148.3, p<0.01), with letters to the editor being anti-tobacco control most often.Tobacco control advocates must consider public opinion, opposition pressure, timing and themes in tobacco-related media coverage when promoting policy change.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Center for Tobacco Policy Research, Saint Louis University School of Public Health, 3545 Lafayette Ave, Suite 300, St Louis, MO 63104, USA. harrisjk@slu.edu

ABSTRACT

Objective: Tobacco control policies gained ground nationwide in 2006, with voters in nine states approving legislation to strengthen clean indoor air policies and increase tobacco excise taxes. Despite having the second lowest cigarette tax rate in the nation, Missouri was unsuccessful in passing its 2006 ballot initiative to raise the tax. An important way to encourage health-related policy change such as increasing tobacco taxes is through media coverage of tobacco issues. We examined how tobacco issues were presented in Missouri's print media leading up to the 2006 election.

Methods: This study analysed 1263 articles with tobacco content published in 187 Missouri newspapers in the year before the election. Articles were coded for general and tobacco-related characteristics including article type (news story, editorial, letter to the editor), tobacco control position (pro, neutral, anti) and article theme (economic, health, political).

Results: Most articles were news stories (73.6%) and pro-tobacco control (63.8%). The proportion of anti-tobacco control articles increased significantly (chi(2)=104.9, p<0.001) the month before the election, driven by an increase in economically themed articles. Economic articles were published more often in counties with less voter support for the tax (F=5.68, p<0.01). Finally, tobacco control position varied significantly across article types (chi(2)=148.3, p<0.01), with letters to the editor being anti-tobacco control most often.

Conclusion: The media have a critical role in promoting public health goals and presenting health issues which influences formation of health policies. Tobacco control advocates must consider public opinion, opposition pressure, timing and themes in tobacco-related media coverage when promoting policy change.

Show MeSH