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Developing policy to reverse cigar trend: roles of media

Institution: University of California, San Francisco
Investigator(s): Lisa Bero, Ph.D.
Award Cycle: 1997 (Cycle 6) Grant #: 6RT-0026 Award: $249,785
Subject Area: Public Health, Public Policy, and Economics
Award Type: Research Project Awards

Initial Award Abstract
While cigarette smoking has declined, 1994 saw the first increase in U.S. cigar consumption since 1970, and the trend has continued upward. The largest growing segment of new cigar smokers is persons 26-38 years old, suggesting a trend toward younger smokers. Scientific studies have linked cigar smoking to increased risks for several cancers and also show that cigars emit considerably more harmful pollution into the air then cigarettes. Yet cigars remain unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration and other public health agencies. The reasons for the increase in cigar use are unclear, but media coverage and interest in cigars appear to be increasing, and few articles in newspapers or magazines appear to discuss health effects. Cigar industry spokespersons suggest that the reason for the trend lies in “internal” or personal factors such as independent thinking and revolt against “healthy” recommendations. This study will examine the roles of two “external” factors in promoting cigar smoking as a socially popular behavior: print/Internet media coverage and images, and the efforts of the tobacco industry.

In this study, we will:

1) track and compare trends over the past decade (1987-1997) in cigar advertising, cigar sales, and number of cigar-related newspaper and magazine articles;

2) analyze the content of all articles discussing cigars in the five largest-circulation daily California newspapers, the five largest-circulation daily U.S. news-papers, and all U.S. magazines published during the 1987-1997 period;

3) analyze cigar advertising and cigar images in a sample of U.S. magazines, including general-circulation magazines with the highest incidence of cigar-focused stores, young-adult-oriented magazines, and two smoking magazines, Cigar Aficionado and Smoke;

4) study and classify current cigar-related sites on the World Wide Web;

5) examine the role of the tobacco industry in contributing to media (print/Internet) coverage of cigars. This will include (a) analyzing documents from the Tobacco Control Archives at UCSF Library, (b) analyzing materials from the cigar industry, and (c) interview journalists about their sources of information for cigar-related articles.

We will use these findings to develop policy recommendations to decrease cigar smoking. Depending upon our findings, these specific policy recommendations will provide useful guidance for legislators, public health officials, journalists, and /or media consumers.

Final Report
In 1994, there were over 125,000 new cigar smokers in the United States. Although cigar use remains below the peak years in the 1960s, consumption increased in 1994 for the first time since 1974 and has risen in each year since. Reasons for increasing cigar use are unclear, but the role of potentially modifiable social or cultural factors "external" to individuals, such as coverage in media and advertising by the tobacco industry,. has not been addressed. This study aims to better understand the roles of media in shaping the cigar smoking trend, and builds. on and extends a project funded by the National Cancer Institute in which we are examining newspaper and magazine coverage of cigars during the years 19871996. The purpose of this project is to provide a scientific foundation for policy and public health interventions to reduce cigar use.

The project has the following specific aims:

1)Track and compare trends from 1997 through 1999 in cigar advertising, cigar sales, and number of cigar-related newspaper and magazine articles;

2) Analyze the content of all articles discussing cigars in the five largest circulation US newspapers and all US magazines published from 1997 through 1999;

3) Analyze the content of all articles discussing cigars in the ten largest-circulation daily California newspapers during the 1.986-1999 period;

4) Analyze cigar advertising and cigar images in a sample of US magazines from 1997 though 1999;

5) Examine the consumer and public health community response to media coverage of cigars by analyzing the content, extent, placement, and source of all cigar-related letters-to-the-editor published in California and national newspapers from 1987 through 1999.

For aims #1-3, all data have been collected, coded, and analyzed through 1997 and a paper has been submitted to AJPH based on these analyses. We identified 3855 newspaper articles and 2400 magazine articles published from 1987 through 1999. These were screened and a sample of 685 newspaper articles and 437 magazine articles that focused primarily on cigars was selected for analysis. In California newspapers, cigar-focused articles began to rise significantly in 1993 and 1994 and appear to have peaked in 1997 when there were 73 articles and subsequently decreased in 1998 and 1999. We found no significant differences between the California and other U.S. newspaper articles, including the frequency with which health effects of cigar use are mentioned. Data from articles published in 1998 and 1999 will be analyzed further. For aim #4, we have reviewed a large number of advertisements and images with our advertising consultant, Herbert Chao Gunther of the Public Media Center, and based on that review we refined and piloted our coding instrument to capture identified themes. We have selected and coded our sample. The most common themes identified in magazines include luxury/financial success, humor, enjoyment, and sex/romance. The most common themes identified in cigar magazines were authenticity-non technological, picture of cigar, authenticity-historical, and luxury/financial success. For aim #5, we have identified and analyzed letters to the editor in newspapers (n = 124) and national magazines (n = 20). We also identified a sample of 21 cigar focused editorials and are developing a coding instrument for these. Overall results of this study have informed the policy agenda on cigar smoking and will help public health advocates to design effective media outreach and information strategies.

Stogies not just for old fogies: the cigar revival and the popular press
Periodical: Proceedings of the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting Index Medicus:
Authors: Wenger LD, Malone RE, George A, Bero LA ABS
Yr: 1998 Vol: Nbr: Abs: Pg: 175

Roles of media and community response in the recent cigar trend
Periodical: Proceedings of the TRDRP Annual Investigator's Meeting Index Medicus:
Authors: Bero LA, Malone RE, Wenger LD, George A, Zuckerman L ABS
Yr: 1998 Vol: Nbr: Abs: Pg: 33