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Monday, September 26, 2022

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SDSU communication professor Rachael Record is the associate director of SDSU’s Thirdhand Smoke Resource Center. (Video: Scott Hargrove/SDSU)

Research Horizons: Motivating People to Live Tobacco-free

SDSU communication professor Rachael Record studies how to encourage people to shed excuses and make healthier decisions.
By Kellie Woodhouse and Scott Hargrove

Society has known for 60 years that smoking is terrible for human health.

Yet despite mounting evidence about the dangers of smoke—how, for example, even residual toxins left innocuously on clothing or furniture are harmful—14% of adults in the United States continue to use cigarettes, and society struggles to comprehensively regulate tobacco use. 

San Diego State University communication professor Rachael Record is captivated with uncovering the excuses and justifications behind unhealthy behaviors like smoking. 

She studies the barriers that keep people from making good choices and works to develop targeted communication campaigns aimed at convincing people to make healthier choices. 

“When I talk to people who smoke, or who know someone who smokes, they know that tobacco is bad for them,” said Record, associate director of SDSU’s Thirdhand Smoke Resource Center. “That isn’t the problem. The problem is finding the motivation to make tobacco prevention a priority.

“We have to understand who we are talking to and what matters to them, or our messages won’t have any traction.”

Record earned her doctoral degree in communication from the University of Kentucky, where she also was a postdoctoral fellow. She joined the SDSU faculty in 2014. She is also a core researcher in SDSU’s Center for Communication, Health & the Public Good. Her research is funded by the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program of California, which receives its funding from tobacco taxes approved by voters in 1988 and 2016.