An examination of portrayals of smoking in graphic novels/comic books: A picture is worth a thousand words
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INTRODUCTION Smoking continues to extract an unacceptably high toll in Ireland in terms of both mortality and morbidity. Therefore, attention needs to focus on examining pro-smoking influences on teenagers and young adults, as most smokers start smoking before the age of 21 years. Given that this critical period is one of identity formation and assertion of adulthood, it is useful to look at media representation of smoking. One form of increasingly pervasive media that may require further examination is that of the portrayal of smoking in graphic novels. The broad appeal of graphic novels has been well noted, particularly to those aged under 35 years. METHODS This research examined a random selection of ten graphic novels chosen from the main library in a provincial Irish City. The novels were examined on a panel-by-panel basis for images of smokers. Smokers were coded by gender. RESULTS Analysis identified a total of 526 panels depicting smoking. Substantial variation was noted in the number of smoking images between novels, varying from 0 to 267. A dramatic difference in the number of male to female smokers was observed, the ratio being approximately 17:1. CONCLUSIONS Graphic novels must be considered as a potentially significant source of portrayals of smoking to adolescent and young adult readers of this form of literature.
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