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Talking Tobacco

Interpersonal, Organizational, and Mediated Messages


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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3 A Complicated Conversation: Tobacco Use and Misuse in Native American Communities Kelly Mella


Native American adults have a higher rate of habitual smoking than all other racial/ethnic groups in the country (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2009; Falk, Hsiao-Ye, & Hiller-Sturmhöfel, 2006). In Wisconsin, the rate is especially high: an alarming 42%, compared to percentages in the 20s and teens for all other racial/ethnic groups in the state (Wisconsin Department of Health Services [DHS], 2008). As decades of medical research show, habitual smoking is linked to health problems including cardiovascular disease, cancer, emphysema, diabetes, and death (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [DHHS], 2010).

One way health officials have attempted to address the problem of high smoking rates in Native populations is through persuasive media-based campaigns. The past several decades have seen a “geometric increase” in the number of persuasive campaigns aimed at reducing unhealthy behaviors in the general population, including smoking (Burgoon, Alvaro, Grandpre, & Voulodakis, 2002). Although some of these campaigns have had success in affecting audience attitudes—most notably the Truth counter-tobacco-industry campaign (Grier & Bryant, 2005)—the majority appear to often miss their mark, failing to induce the desired behavior change or, worse, resulting in changes in the opposite direction (Burgoon et al., 2002; Ringold, 2002; Snyder & Hamilton, 2002).

Some research has shown that using a culture-centered approach and employing cultural sensitivity in the design of persuasive health messages can im- ← 28 | 29 → prove their effectiveness (Archie-Booker, Cervero, & Langone, 1999; Baldwin et al., 1996; Basu & Dutta, 2009; Chao...

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