Only 130 ST articles focused on tobacco harm reduction (lumped with new products and product regulation), a low number considering the subject’s potential to save millions of lives. Of these, only “…about 58%... referred to ST products as being [or] possibly being less risky or harmful than smoking.” This category also had the highest percentage of articles (69%) with references to health risks, but it is likely that few of them were positive. Tobacco hometown newspapers contributed the most articles to this category (38%), followed by state papers (35%) and national papers (23%).
The researchers also found 176 “opinion” articles; 89 were letters to the editor, 70 were editorials and 17 were op-ed pieces. Unfortunately, 64% were classified by the researchers as anti-ST, only 26% were pro-ST, and the remainder were neutral. Of the 61 articles in the harm reduction category, 43% were pro-ST.
One positive note: The use of the derogatory term “spit tobacco” was uncommon, except in state newspapers (15%).
In short, coverage of ST has been scant and heavily biased against and tobacco harm reduction. This is unsurprising, given the national misinformation campaign that I discussed previously ( here ).