In this episode Chimwemwe Ngoma, a leading tobacco harm reduction advocate from Malawi, discusses a recent study examining attitudes to THR in African online news media, and how a lack of consensus amongst global public health authorities stokes confusion amongst smokers and users of safer products.
Chapters:0:00 - Intro with Joanna Junak 0:40 - Chimwemwe Ngoma discusses the portrayal of e-cigarette use in African online news media 1:24 - Study finds positive THR outlook in African online media 3:38 - Is a lack of consensus amongst health authorities negatively impacting smokers? 4:31 - Online media have significant power to affect public perceptions of THR 5:43 - Closing remarks
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Joanna Junak: Hello and welcome. I'm Joanna Junak and this is GFN News on GFN.TV. Electronic cigarettes use has increased internationally in recent years. However, in some African countries we still see a lot of misinformation around safer products, both among public health professionals and in the media. Joining us today to comment on the portray of e-cigarette use in African online news media is Chimwemwe Nkoma, a leading tobacco harm reduction advocate from Malawi. Hello, Chimwemwe. Can you tell us why you undertook this study and which areas the study investigated?
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Chimwemwe Ngoma: All right, so I think I should mention that this study was undertaken by myself and Yusuf Adebisi. So we conducted this study to shed light on how electronic cigarettes are portrayed in the African online news media. You know how the use of electronic cigarettes has been a subject of debate and global concern, and we wanted to understand how this issue is being discussed in the African media landscape.
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Joanna Junak: and what are the key findings of the study?
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Chimwemwe Ngoma: So we analyzed a number of news articles related to electronic cigarettes and like I said in the African online news media, we found that positively framed articles and arguments outnumbered negatively framed articles and arguments. And this result aligns with similar patterns observed in other studies that were undertaken in Indonesia, the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Korea. In terms of the most discussed topic, a majority of the articles centered around the health impacts of electronic cigarettes rather than policy issues. And this is likely due to the increasing amount of scientific knowledge about the health effects of electronic cigarettes in recent years. In terms of news sources, public health institutions were the most commonly used type of news source, which was followed by retailers and manufacturers. And this influenced the framing and the tone of the articles, with a majority having a positive tone towards electronic cigarettes. What I can also say about the study is that the study notes that there is a lack of consensus among health officials on whether electronic cigarettes are a healthy option or not. Some health authorities advocated for electronic cigarettes as a safe alternative to smoking, whereas others flatly dismissed the argument, leading to more conflicting viewpoints from the health authorities. Another interesting revelation is that the perspectives of electronic cigarette users or smokers were often overlooked in the articles, despite their first-hand experience with the product, which we think would be very useful in the discussion. So in brief, those are some of the key results of this study.
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Joanna Junak: What are the overall conclusions of this study?
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Chimwemwe Ngoma: All right, so this study's primary result is that whilst there is an emphasis on discussing the health impacts of electronic cigarettes, there is lack of consensus among national, regional, and global health authorities on whether electronic cigarettes are a healthy option or not. This lack of consensus can create confusion among policymakers, nicotine users, and the general public potentially leading to uninformed policies and negative public health outcomes. So it is therefore crucial that scientists, researchers, public health officials, the media and everyone involved in the discussion to promote credible science and evidence in order to guide policies that uphold public health.
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Joanna Junak: And finally, why is this study so important?
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Chimwemwe Ngoma: So this study is important for several reasons. Firstly, it provides insights into how electronic cigarettes are portrayed in the media, particularly on the African continent. As electronic cigarette use continues to grow globally, understanding how the media covers this topic, I think, is very crucial for informed public discourse. Secondly, The study highlights the need for consensus among health authorities regarding the health effects of electronic cigarettes. The conflicting viewpoints among these authorities, like I said earlier, can lead to confusion among public health authorities, nicotine consumers, and many other people, which could lead to uninformed decisions that would impact public health. And in summary, what I can say is that this study underscores the need for evidence-based policy decisions and informed public discourse.
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Joanna Junak: Thank you Chimwemwe. That's all for today. Tune in next time here on GFN TV or on our podcast. You can also find transcriptions of each episode on the GFN TV website. Thanks for watching or listening. See you next time.