The debate on regulating menthol cigarettes: Closing a dangerous loophole vs freedom of choice

Stoking fears of job loss and strategically positioning itself on the side of civil rights groups, the tobacco industry influenced news coverage of mentholated cigarettes — which disproportionately impact the health of African Americans — to prevent a ban on them, found researchers at BMSG and the Public Health Advocacy Institute in a study published in the American Journal of Public Health.

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Video: Corporations, consumption and protecting public health

Chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes cause 7 out of every 10 deaths in the United States. In this video, BMSG's Lori Dorfman and public health attorney Michele Simon join Nicholas Freudenberg, author of Lethal but legal: Corporations, consumption and protecting public health, to discuss how the business practices of alcohol, tobacco, food and other industries are causing these illnesses and what tools, including policy, advocates can use to prevent them.

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The origins of personal responsibility rhetoric in news coverage of the tobacco industry

To deflect blame for its products' health harms, the tobacco industry consistently frames smoking as a personal issue rather than the responsibility of cigarette companies. A study from BMSG and our colleagues at the Public Health Advocacy Institute, published in the American Journal of Public Health, identifies when personal responsibility framing became a major element of the industry's discourse and explores how its messages evolved over time to meet political and legal challenges.

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Public health and media advocacy

Media advocacy can bolster public health practitioners' efforts to advance social justice and work to solve some of our country's most complex social and political issues. In this article, published in the American Review of Public Health, BMSG's Lori Dorfman and Ingrid Daffner Krasnow discuss key components of media advocacy and offer tips for advocates, including framing pitfalls to avoid, ways to make data meaningful to broad audiences, and how to use compelling visuals to get a reporter's attention.

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Video: The power of the personal voice in media advocacy

Effective storytelling is an important way for advocates to bring media attention to important public health issues. As the Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program's Genoveva Islas points out in this brown bag as part of BMSG's 20th anniversary series, if public health advocates don't tell their own stories, someone else will, but from a different perspective. Along with CCROPP's Brandie Banks-Bey, Islas shares three steps that advocates can take to get better at articulating the problems in their communities and what can be done to address them.

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Issue 21: Two communities, two debates: News coverage of soda tax proposals in Richmond and El Monte

In 2012, the California cities of Richmond and El Monte made headlines when they asked voters to consider taxing soda and other sugary drinks. Wanting to avoid a regulatory precedent, the soda industry spent $4 million to oppose the ballot measures, which ultimately failed. In this news analysis, we explore how the tax proposals were portrayed in the news, what arguments were made both for and against them, and what this means for public health advocates looking to regulate sugary beverages in other communities.

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Video: Beyond sound bites: The role of power in communication

Values are an important part of communicating, but where do they come from and how are they created? Who gets to matter in public conversations, and how can advocates make their voices more powerful? In this brown bag, a part of BMSG's 20th anniversary series, Praxis Project Executive Director Makani Themba discusses the role of institutional actors in producing values and encourages advocates to get involved in that process. She urges us to move beyond fleeting sound bites and develop a deeper communication strategy — one that addresses power imbalances and puts advocates in front of the mic.

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Why digital marketing is different
State law approaches to address digital food marketing to youth: Why digital marketing is different

With young people's growing use of digital devices, food and beverage companies are now able to target them in more ways than ever, often with deceptive content that makes it harder for youth to recognize as marketing. Some legal protections have yet to catch up with advances in digital marketing, but existing prohibitions on unfair and deceptive practices can be used to protect kids.

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digital food marketing to youth: Executive summary
State law approaches to address digital food marketing to youth: Executive summary

Digital food marketing to young children is not only inherently deceptive, it threatens kids' health. This report from the Public Health Advocacy Institute, Berkeley Media Studies Group and Center for Digital Democracy explores how state consumer protection law can be used to limit harmful digital food marketing to vulnerable child and teen consumers. Read the executive summary or download the full report >

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digital food marketing to youth: Full report
State law approaches to address digital food marketing to youth: Full report

The toll in human suffering and health costs from diet-related disease is stark. Addressing the digital marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to youth is a key step toward easing this toll and ensuring a healthy future. This report from the Public Health Advocacy Institute, Berkeley Media Studies Group and Center for Digital Democracy describes state legal approaches available to stem the harmful tide of digital food marketing targeted at children and teens.

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Gaming Report
State law approaches to address digital food marketing to youth: Gaming

Digital games are a popular tactic that food and beverage companies use to market unhealthy products to kids and teens. Research shows there is a connection between gaming and obesity, and advergames can have a harmful effect on kids' eating habits. However, the sheer volume of gaming platforms and apps makes state regulation a challenge.

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When prevention gets attention: News coverage of Minnesota's Statewide Health Improvement Program

In 2008, the Minnesota Legislature passed a ground-breaking health reform law that included a provision to address the root causes of poor heath, with the aim of reducing rising health care costs. In this news analysis, we assess how the program was framed in the media and offer recommendations to help public health advocates make the case for prevention.

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Webinar: Actions to reduce unhealthy food marketing to kids

Addressing food marketing is critical to improving child nutrition and health. This webinar, hosted by ASTHO, the Food Marketing Workgroup and NPLAN, and moderated by BMSG's Lori Dorfman, explores past challenges and victories to help advocates reduce junk food marketing to kids in the present.

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Cigarettes become a dangerous product: Tobacco in the rearview mirror, 1952-1965

Tobacco control's unparalleled success comes partly from advocates broadening the focus of responsibility beyond the smoker to include industry and government. How can public health advocates apply lessons from tobacco control to other efforts like the fight against harmful food and beverage industry products and marketing practices? A study we conducted with our colleagues from the Public Health Advocacy Institute at Northeastern University School of Law offers insights.

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Video: The fight to reduce auto hazards

Automobiles are a major cause of injury and death, yet because they have long been a symbol of freedom and privacy in the United States, efforts to regulate them often meet resistance. Even basic protections like seat belts and airbags that we now take for granted were once contested. In this video as part of BMSG's 20th anniversary brown bag series, Ben Kelley, director of injury control policy at the Trauma Foundation, discusses the evolution of auto industry regulation and changes in the public's perception of and media reporting on the issue since the early 20th century.

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Webinar: Talking about Health in All Policies

Communities across the U.S. are looking for ways to make sure health considerations are a part of all policy decisions. This requires collaboration and clear communication. In a webinar hosted by the Public Health Institute's Dialogue4Health, BMSG's Lori Dorfman and Ingrid Daffner Krasnow discuss how organizations can make the case for why Health in All Policies is essential to help protect physical and fiscal health, advance community engagement, and build relationships across government sectors.

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Talking about Health in All Policies

Health in All Policies is a collaborative approach to improving the health of all people by making sure health considerations are a part of all policy decisions. In Section 7 of this toolkit from the Public Health Institute, BMSG's Lori Dorfman and Ingrid Daffner Krasnow discuss how we can more effectively make the case for a Health in All Policies framework. Download toolkit >

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Video: Why government is an essential protector of public health

Speaking at a California State Senate informational hearing, BMSG media researcher Andrew Cheyne talks about the government's role in protecting public health. He discusses how public perceptions of the government's responsibility to support health have changed over time and explains how media coverage can influence -- and often limit -- our understanding of health issues.

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Webinar: Strategic communications and planning for YOU(th)! How youth-serving organizations can plan ahead for community change

Youth and youth-serving organizations play an important and unique role in supporting efforts to create healthy environments. Knowing how to plan communications efforts is a critical function of local organizations' collaborative success, within the local health department infrastructure and beyond. In this webinar, BMSG's Ingrid Daffner Krasnow and Lezak Shallat, along with the Network for a Healthy California, provide some foundational tools to plan ahead for strategic communications to help advance systems change in local communities.

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Corporate irresponsibility: Junk food marketing to children

Marketing for soda and junk food is everywhere kids are: at school, in the supermarket, in our communities and online. Try as they might, parents simply can't compete with the $1.8 billion food companies spend each year to entice and engage children. In this commentary (part of a larger report on obesity), BMSG's Lori Dorfman and CSPI's Margo Wootan discuss the issue and what can be done. To view the commentary, see Page 73 of the full report.

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Strategic communications and framing webinar for YOU(th)!: How youth-serving organizations can support youth voice for community change

Youth and youth-serving organizations play an important role in supporting efforts to creating healthy environments, and knowing how to talk about their work is a critical function of their success. In this webinar, BMSG's Ingrid Daffner-Krasnow and the Network for a Healthy California help participants learn how to communicate more effectively and better support youth voice in advancing systems change.

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Soda tax debates: News coverage of ballot measures in Richmond and El Monte, California, 2012

In 2012, two California cities asked voters to consider taxing soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages. The measures failed, but advocates can learn a lot from how the news media covered the issue. In this preliminary report, we discuss what arguments appeared in the news, how reporters portrayed the need for the policies, how government and the soda industry were characterized, and what this means going forward. A final report will be released later this year.

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Video: Bringing health equity to the message environment: Policy issues

In this presentation, as part of the Institute of Medicine workshop Creating Equal Opportunities for a Healthy Weight, BMSG's Lori Dorfman discusses how our message environment undermines health equity by targeting youth (especially youth of color) with marketing for unhealthy foods. Dorfman says this type of targeting often happens without parents' knowledge and makes recommendations for change, including conducting more research and pushing for policies that strengthen nutrition standards and hold industry accountable.

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The digital food marketing landscape: Challenges for researchers

In spite of a rapid growth in digital marketing, research on how it affects children's health has failed to keep pace with changing industry practices. This chapter, part of Advances in Communication Research to Reduce Childhood Obesity, presents a conceptual framework for understanding how digital marketing differs from traditional forms of marketing and identifies challenges for researchers.

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Video: Authentic community engagement

In the heat of a campaign, it can be easy to forget that advocacy is about more than winning a particular policy change. It's about values and relationships -- and that requires dialogue. In this brown bag discussion, Francisco (Pancho) Argüelles, executive director of the Living Hope Wheelchair Association, encourages us to step outside our comfort zones and learn how to open the space for conversation so that we can become better allies to communities struggling for justice.

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