Led by CPHSS Associate Director, Sarah Moreland-Russell, "Anti-Smoking Data Are Exaggerated" Versus "The Data Are Clear and Indisputable": Examining Letters to the Editor About Tobacco" was recently published in the Journal of Health Communication: International Perspectives. This paper examined the role of media advocacy in tobacco control policy development. The authors assessed 262 tobacco-related letters to the editor published in Missouri from November 2005-November 2007. This time span encompassed the failed tax initiative of 2006.
Using ethnographic context analysis, the authors coded for the position, trigger, objective, authority, and rhetoric used in each letter to the editor. The authors found that pro-tobacco control letters to the editor more often used didactic strategies, citing data and reports and presenting their professional training (e.g., M.D.) to support their arguments, while anti-tobacco control letters to the editor more often used narrative and presented their authority as smokers or small business owners to add legitimacy. Drawing on these findings, the authors suggest that tobacco control advocates increase use of narrative strategies to better connect with readers and policymakers.