Newspaper coverage of tobacco control in New Zealand

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Abstract

Objective:

The New Zealand (NZ) government has proposed that the country be ‘Smokefree’ by 2025. This paper examines how NZ newspapers have portrayed tobacco control initiatives to achieve this goal.

Method:

We examined tobacco-related articles from NZ newspapers published between 1 November 2011 and 31 October 2012, using a coding frame to capture smoking themes, portrayal of actions and degree of support expressed for various pro- and anti- tobacco control objectives.

Results:

A total of 537 separate articles were obtained from national and regional newspapers. Six themes appeared in more than 5% of the total articles: Smokefree 2025; smokefree areas; pricing; tobacco industry; plain packaging; and cessation. Overall, articles on tobacco smoking were three times more likely to emphasise actions consonant with tobacco control objectives rather than against them, and to report them with a positive rather than negative tone.

Conclusions:

NZ tobacco control advocates can take heart from the nature and extent of coverage of tobacco control initiatives. Opportunities for further media advocacy are discussed.

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