Addicted to Tobacco Stories: A One-Sided Portrayal of a Risky Product


  • Put tobacco in perspective. Other risky products do not get nearly the same amount of news coverage as tobacco. Either there is not enough coverage of fat, for instance, or there is too much coverage of tobacco.

  • Challenge President Clinton. Reporters should ask: If government action can curb teen smoking, then shouldn't he be held responsible for increased teen drug use? And if he shouldn't be held responsible for increased teen drug use, then why does he think government regulation of tobacco will be effective?

  • Always give both sides of the story. Many stories had soundbites only from anti-tobacco activists. Both sides should always be interviewed. 

    Show as much skepticism toward anti-tobacco sources as pro-tobacco sources. If the funding sources of groups which oppose tobacco regulation are important, then so are the funding sources of those who support tobacco regulation.

  • Interview sources on both sides who will be credible with viewers. There are independent, non-industry sources who oppose tobacco regulations. They should be interviewed.