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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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10 Young People’s Attitudes and Decision Making Concerning Tobacco and Tobacco-Use-Prevention Advertising Bruce E. Pinkleton and Erica Weintraub Austin


Research indicates that more than 80% of adults who smoke started before they were 18 years old (Centers for Disease Control, CDC, 2011), and adolescents comprise most of the tobacco industry’s new consumers (CDC, 2000; Pinkleton, Austin, Cohen, Miller, & Fitzgerald, 2007). Approximately 33% of young people who smoke will die as a result of their tobacco use (Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, 2006). Consequently, smoking and other forms of tobacco use among young people pose a serious social health concern.

Mass media play a significant role in encouraging tobacco use among young people. Scholars and social commentators criticize movies, television, music, and other media for portrayals that glamorize and popularize tobacco use (Chung, Garfield, Rathouz, & Lauderdale, 2002). A key form of mass media that promotes tobacco use is advertising. Although some forms of tobacco advertising are restricted in the United States by the federal government, the tobacco industry aggressively markets its products through print advertising, event sponsorship, point-of-sale promotions, strategic product placement, and other means. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI, 2008), the costs of cigarette advertising and related forms of promotion totaled more than $13.5 billion in 2005 and industry marketing messages often have particular appeal to youth, minorities, and women (American Heart Association, 2011). ← 157 | 158 →

Researchers have documented tobacco producers’ use of age-related strategies to segment the market with a special emphasis on young people labeled “starters” or “new smokers” by the industry. Young people comprise a...

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