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Talking Tobacco

Interpersonal, Organizational, and Mediated Messages

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Edited By Stuart L. Esrock, Kandi L. Walker and Joy L. Hart

Despite the widely recognized toll of tobacco and increasing action to curb tobacco use (e.g., increased excise taxes, smoking bans), smoking continues. Numerous messages about tobacco, smoking, and health circulate throughout society, but in spite of the prevalence of such messages and the importance of how they are constructed and interpreted, too little communication research has been dedicated to understanding and assessing tobacco-related messages. Talking Tobacco addresses the shortcoming. Featuring the work of top communication scholars, the volume advances theoretical knowledge, reviews state-of-the-art research, and shares new findings and insights on a variety of tobacco-related areas ranging from tobacco control efforts to corporate representations.
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1 What’s All the Talk About? Communication Perspectives on Tobacco Issues Joy L. Hart, Stuart L. Esrock, and Kandi L. Walker

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People have done quite a bit of talking about tobacco for some time now. Today conversation continues. Whether individuals discuss their rights as smokers or nonsmokers, organizations bemoan perceived negative effects to their bottom line or advocate for improved public health when smoking is restricted, or media disseminate information on tobacco use, these interpersonal, organizational, and mediated messages about tobacco continue to permeate society. Thus, although communication about tobacco is not new, there is still much to be understood about these messages. The essays in this book advance understanding of these frequent, sometimes complicated conversations, and the authors make important suggestions for furthering research in this area.

Assessing the toll of tobacco on health and society is challenging. Clearly, staggering amounts of public monies are spent each year to care for current and former smokers. Further, exposure to secondhand smoke causes a number of health problems and raises issues of individual rights. Organizations footing or assisting with the cost of health insurance coverage debate how to encourage worker health, through programs such as smoking cessation, and how to reduce absenteeism due to illness. And, of course, the effects of tobacco-related illness and premature death on individuals, families, and friends are incalculable.

Although the health and social effects of tobacco use are far-reaching and impossible to chronicle in a brief introduction, we provide a few statistics to illustrate the magnitude of the current situation and the need to continue talking about tobacco. Both in the United States...

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