Objective: To investigate framing strategies used by the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) and tobacco control groups to (respectively) resist or advocate laws providing smoke free bars.
Methods: Online archives of Australian print media were searched 1996 to 2003. A thematic analysis of all statements made by AHA spokespeople and tobacco control advocates was conducted. Direct quotes or journalistic summaries of statements attributed to named people were coded into four broad themes and the slant of articles coded.
Results: More than three times as many articles reported issues that were positive (n = 171) than negative (n = 48) for tobacco control objectives. The AHA emphasised negative economic issues and cultural/ideological frames about cultural identity, while tobacco control interests emphasised health concerns as well as cultural/ideological frames about threats to inequitable workplace policies.
Conclusions: Smoke free bars have now been secured, suggesting that health advocates’ position prevailed. The inability of the AHA to avoid the core health arguments, its wildly exaggerated economic predictions, and its frequent recourse to claiming smoke bans threatened nostalgic but outmoded vistas of Australian day to day life were decidedly backward looking and comparatively easily dismissed as being out of touch with views held by many in contemporary Australia. Health groups’ emphasis on the unfairness in denying the most occupationally exposed group the same protection that all other workers enjoyed under law was powerfully and consistently argued. Australia’s recent success in securing dates for the implementation of smoke free pubs is likely to have owed much to the enduring media advocacy by health groups.
- AHA, Australian Hotels Association
- ETS, environmental tobacco smoke
- environmental tobacco smoke
- news media
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Competing interests: S Chapman is on the board of Action on Smoking and Health and has advocated for smoke free bars