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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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5 “In a Group of Our Own”: Talking about Tobacco-Related Stigma in Internet Lung Cancer Support Groups Tamar Ginossar


Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer mortality nationally and worldwide, with more people each year who die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined (American Cancer Society, 2012). The Cancer Society also estimated that in 2012 about 226,160 people would be diagnosed with lung cancer and 160,340 people would die from the disease. Only one out of six people diagnosed with lung cancer is diagnosed at an early stage when the cancer is still confined to the lung. Consequently, lung cancer survival rates are dismal. The overall 5-year relative survival rate is 15 percent (Parkin, Bray, Ferlay, & Pisani, 2005). Half of the people diagnosed with stage 4 nonsmall cell lung cancer (the most common type) pass away only 8 months after diagnosis.

The main risk factor for lung cancer is smoking. Male smokers are about 23 times more likely to have lung cancer than nonsmokers. The duration and quantity of exposure to tobacco smoking are related to the risk of developing lung cancer. Additional risk factors are exposure to secondhand smoke and other environmental and occupational exposures, including radon and asbestos (American Cancer Society, 2010).

The link between smoking and lung cancer was officially announced to the public in 1964 in the Surgeon General’s warning on the impact of tobacco smoking on health (Brandt, 1990). In the following decades, the diffusion of the growing scientific evidence about the deadly impact of smoking tobacco led to tobacco control...

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