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Smokeless Tobacco Risk Comparisons and Other Debate Messages in the News



Public health professionals have debated the use of smokeless tobacco (SLT) over cigarettes for harm reduction. This article describes SLT and cigarette risk comparisons and other SLT "debate" messages potentially reaching the public through news stories.


We conducted a content analysis of SLT-related 2006-10 articles from top newspapers and selected news wires.


About 16% of articles (N = 677) referred to SLT as less harmful than smoking, attributing these messages to public health professionals as frequently as to tobacco company representatives. About 29% of articles included an "anti" SLT message, including variously phrased warnings that SLT is not a safe smoking alternative, or other potential consequences such as youth uptake.


Professionals should begin developing and using more consistent messages about SLT's risks.

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