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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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4 Smoking Cessation as a Relationship: A Narrative Analysis of Internet Discussions on Tobacco Use and Smoking Cessation Joshua Hillyer and Mary Helen Brown

Extract

The Internet provides information about a variety of health-related issues. More specifically, individuals turn to message forum communities for advice, education, support, and encouragement. These interactive communities are growing steadily in the number of forums and participants. Health narratives, such as those found on Internet forums, allow individuals to make sense of their situations and to communicate their experiences to others facing similar circumstances. These stories present health-related information in an accessible, memorable, and persuasive format.

Exploring how interactive communities use narratives to present information about smoking and tobacco use is a worthwhile pursuit. Thus, we examine the narrative themes in stories posted on a popular message board focusing on smoking cessation. Our analysis shows how these narrative themes manage meaning and provide encouragement for participants. In this way, we investigate how posters communicate about their situations, provide and seek information, and offer support in a setting that is increasingly influential.

The use of narratives in health communication has been a frequent topic of scholarly work (for general discussions see Charon, 2006, and Frank, 1995). Some research examines narratives in specific contexts including addiction (Jod- ← 47 | 48 → lowski, Sharf, Nguyen, Haidet, & Woodward, 2007), cancer (Green, 2006), and burn survivorship (Mirivel & Thombre, 2010). A good deal of health communication research focuses on narratives related to smoking. For example, Parry, Fowkes, and Thomson (2001) obtained stories from older persons who had quit smoking because of illness related to their habit. In many stories, a crisis spurred...

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