Online Program

Framing Public Health Policy and Behavior: Smokeless Tobacco and Major League Baseball

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 2:30 p.m. - 2:50 p.m.

Sarah Evans, Ph.D., Fors Marsh Group, Arlington, VA
Cameron Wimpy, PhD, Fors Marsh Group, Arlington, VA
Ashley Barbee, MA, Fors Marsh Group, Arlington
Nikkita Sarna, Fors Marsh Group, Arlington, VA
Hall of Fame baseball player Tony Gwynn died last summer at the age of 54, succumbing to salivary gland cancer. Gwynn had used smokeless tobacco during his 20-year career with the Padres, and his passing generated significant conversation about the dangers of smokeless tobacco and its tie to our nation’s pastime. How the conversation was framed in the media, however, could impact if this will be an opportunity seized or missed for prevention and cessation efforts. More specifically, there’s a difference between having knowledge of risks and internalizing that knowledge in a personally meaningful way. Communication of risks plays an impactful role in helping people make the connections necessary to create and build relevance.

The smokeless tobacco conversation generated by Gwynn’s passing provides an interesting case study. This study examines key message frames that emerged from a content analysis of news stories published during the four weeks following Tony Gwynn’s death. Articles discussed smokeless tobacco use in Major League Baseball (MLB), including a renewed interest (and debate) around a policy that would ban smokeless tobacco in the MLB. Key themes that emerged included: costs of use, norms, and respect for personal choice. Personal choice in particular was commonly presented as at odds with a policy change, and potential conversational shifts that may be necessary to address personal choice in the context of leveraging policy to achieve public health goals will be discussed.

Learning Areas:

Communication and informatics
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the communication implications of a perceived tension between personal choice and leveraging policy to achieve public health goals. Identify key message frames utilized in discussions of a potential Major League Baseball ban on smokeless tobacco use following the 2014 death of Hall of Fame baseball player Tony Gwynn.

Keyword(s): Tobacco Use, Communication

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Sarah Evans leads mixed methods studies supporting the development and evaluation of evidence-based behavior change communication. Much of Sarah’s past work has been conducted in partnership with advertising agencies and designed to enhance social marketing and health communication initiatives. Among her recent efforts is work focused on smokeless tobacco use disparities in rural areas. Sarah holds a Ph.D. in Communication, with an emphasis on Persuasion and Social Influence, from the University of Maryland.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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