Understanding tobacco industry tactics: a content analysis of newspaper coverage of tobacco issues in Pakistan
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TheNetwork for Consumer Protection in Pakistan, Pakistan
Health Services Academy, Public Health, Pakistan
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A461
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Each year more than 110,000 people die because of tobacco use in Pakistan. There are approximately 23.6 million (age 15-45 years) tobacco users in Pakistan. GYTS-2014 revealed that 13.3% of boys and 6.6% of girls (age 13-15 years) used tobacco products. Pakistan is the signatory of FCTC since 2004. Although efforts are being made but TI is continuously using its tactics targeting youth.The aim of this study is to examine the claims by tobacco industry as well as the counter-arguments by tobacco control advocates in the year 2016-17 in Pakistan to show patterns of arguments.

The present study took a qualitative approach to examine the articles about tobacco (cigarettes) in English Pakistan newspapers from October, 2016, to October, 2017. All tobacco related articles were chosen. The selected seventy articles were likely to represent most of the tobacco related news coverage in top five national newspapers during this period. Content analysis was done to understand the main messages conveyed by the articles and different themes were generated.

Three major players were identified which included the government, civil society and the tobacco industry. Main stories generated were either focused on Tobacco Taxation, Graphical Health Warnings or Tobacco Control in general. The analysis showed that to reduce levies on cigarettes, TI worked in two phases. Firstly it created a smokescreen that counterfeit cigarettes have taken over the legitimate cigarette market. Secondly, TI related it to the loss of government revenues.

The findings indicate that tobacco Industry revolves around the similar patterns of tactics throughout the world taking a step by step approach. Tobacco advocates should study cases of other countries as well to better understand TI tactics and counter ways.

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