Content analysis of Dutch newspaper coverage of three tobacco control policies, 2017-2019

N.L. Poole*, B. van Straaten, F.A. van den Brand, A.B. Gilmore, M.C. Willemsen, G.E. Nagelhout

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


ObjectivesNews media coverage can influence support for and implementation of tobacco control policies. This research aims to analyse and compare newspaper coverage of newly implemented policies: a substantial tobacco tax increase, point-of-sale display ban and plain packaging.DesignWe conducted a content analysis of articles covering the three policies from ten national Dutch newspapers. Articles published between November 2017 and November 2019 were coded for type and tone. The policy dystopia model was used to code arguments opposing the policies. Tobacco industry appearances in news articles were also analysed for frequency and type.ResultsA total of 134 news articles were analysed, of which the industry appeared in 28%. The majority of coverage was neutral in tone, although among articles that were coded as expressing a positive or negative tone, plain packaging and the point-of-sale ban were portrayed more negatively than positively. Negative coverage was predominantly accounted for by industry presence. Arguments opposing the policies focused on negative economic consequences, challenging the need for policy and adverse consequences for retailers for tax, plain packaging and the point-of-sale display ban, respectively. We identified six specific new arguments that fit within existing domains of the policy dystopia model.ConclusionsThe tobacco industry and its allies still appear in a substantial proportion of news articles in relation to tobacco policy. This study identifies contemporary industry arguments against tobacco control policies in Europe which, alongside the policy dystopia model, can be used to predict and counter the tobacco industry's future attempts to oppose policies.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere057912
Number of pages8
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2023


  • JOURNALISM (see Medical Journalism)
  • OP-EDS
  • BANS
  • TAX


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