Media coverage of smoke-free policies after their innovation

J Health Commun. 2015;20(3):297-305. doi: 10.1080/10810730.2014.925017. Epub 2015 Jan 7.


Smoke-free policies are critical to global tobacco control, and prior research on media coverage of smoke-free policies primarily focused on the period when they were first innovated; however, the scientific basis for smoke-free policies has broadened, and how media coverage has changed, if at all, is unknown. The authors characterized the actors, arguments, and favorability of media coverage of smoke-free policies from 2006 to 2009, by content-analyzing 452 news stories in the 4 primary newspapers in South Carolina. Most media coverage was favorable (45%) or mixed (43%) toward smoke-free policies, and negative coverage decreased over time (B = -1.001, SE = 0.326; p = .008). The most prevalent argument concerned the harms of secondhand smoke (44%). A higher percentage of articles mentioned economic arguments against (26%) than for (17%) smoke-free policies (χ(2) = 10.89, p < .01, for the difference between 26% and 17%), and these percentages did not change over time. Advocates and media should improve communications to more effectively represent scientific evidence regarding the null or positive impact of smoke-free policies on businesses.

MeSH terms

  • Commerce / economics
  • Health Communication*
  • Humans
  • Newspapers as Topic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Smoke-Free Policy* / economics
  • Smoke-Free Policy* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Smoking / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Smoking Prevention
  • South Carolina
  • Time Factors
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / prevention & control


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution