261941 Local tobacco control policy change: Grasstops or grassroots?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Carol Schmitt, PhD , RTI International, Washington, DC
Daniel Dench , Public Health Policy Research Program, RTI International, Research Triangle Park, NC
Laurel Curry, MPH , Public Health Policy Research Program, RTI International, Washington, DC
Issues: Tobacco control programs focus on educating the general public and policymakers about the need for tobacco control policies. Case studies from the ASSIST era describe how a mobilized public can influence policymakers (NCI Monograph 16) and past studies have shown that policymakers use public opinion polls to make decisions about what policies they support (O'Dougherty, Forster, & Widom, 1998). While these studies imply that public opinion drives policymaker support, only 2 studies (de Guia, et al., 2003 and Hahn et al., 2000) have compared policymaker and public support for tobacco control policies. These studies, conducted over a decade ago, found the general public to be more supportive of tobacco control policies than policymakers.

Description: In 2011, we compared policymaker support to public support for 4 point of sale (POS) policies and 2 tobacco-free outdoor (TFO) policies. Policymaker data were collected from 676 county-level leaders in New York's 62 counties and New York City's 5 boroughs. Public opinion data was from the NY Adult Tobacco Survey and covered the same geographic areas.

Lessons Learned: The public was significantly more supportive of 3 of the 4 POS policies than were local policymakers, while policymakers were significantly more supportive of the 2 TFO policies than the public.

Recommendations: In an era where tobacco control programs lack sufficient funding for comprehensive media campaigns and tobacco use competes with other health issues for earned media, policymaker education has become an even more important component of local tobacco control for the “next generation” of policies.

Learning Areas:
Program planning
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
1. Compare policymaker support for tobacco control policies to public support for the same policies.

Keywords: Tobacco Policy, Survey

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the independent evaluator of the NY TCP community program for 5 years.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.