Public opinion lights the fire for politicians to adopt anti-smoking bans

By Laura Bailey
Smoking and legislation image courtesy of Don Hammond

(Medical Xpress) -- Citizens aren't just blowing smoke when it comes to anti-tobacco legislation—and they tend to copy what neighboring states do, new research shows.

In adopting anti-smoking bans, is much more important than originally thought, said University of Michigan School of Public Health researcher and lead study author Julianna Pacheco. The closer a person lives to a state that has enacted smoking bans the likelier it is for that person to support smoking bans. Eventually, politicians respond by enacting bans in those home states.

"Democratic responsiveness is alive and well at the state level," said Pacheco, who is also a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar.

"We've always thought that public opinion was important for state policy making, but this is the first paper to empirically test the causal relationship between opinion and policy over time," Pacheco said. "Furthermore, this paper suggests that public opinion is the driving force behind why policies often spread across neighboring states."

The study looks at legislation through the lens of the social contagion theory. The first stage in social contagion occurs as individuals become aware of policies adopted in neighboring states. The second stage occurs as state officials respond to changing opinion on those neighboring policies in the home state. This seems intuitive, but hasn't been studied before, she said.

"There are methodological challenges to measuring state public opinion," Pacheco said. "We have not had very good measures of state opinion that vary over time, which are needed to study the social contagion model."

The social contagion model and the role of public opinion can be applied to other public areas as well, Pacheco said.

"Anti-smoking policies are unique in that these policies are easy for people to understand and directly experience, but that doesn't mean that the social contagion model cannot be applied to other issues," Pacheco said.

The paper, "The Social Contagion Model: Exploring the Role of Public Opinion in the Diffusion of Anti-Smoking Legislation across the American States" will appear in The Journal of Politics.

Related Stories

CDC predicts smoking bans in every state by 2020

date Apr 21, 2011

(AP) -- By 2020, every state may have bans on smoking in restaurants, bars and the workplace, federal health officials predicted Thursday, based on the current pace of adopting anti-smoking laws.

Certain states more aggressive with anti-smoking policies

date Apr 08, 2009

A new study published in the journal Contemporary Economic Policy assesses the impact of state attributes on the likelihood that a state adopts policies to limit youth access to tobacco. Across nine different measures of you ...

Recommended for you

Moving upstream to promote a healthier nation

date 1 hour ago

The Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) proudly announces the publication of a Health Education & Behavior (HE&B) supplement devoted to the latest research and practice on policy and environmental approaches to fos ...

Arizona governor signs abortion drug notification mandate

date 2 hours ago

Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill Monday that requires abortion providers in Arizona to tell women they can reverse the effects of a drug-induced abortion and also bars women from buying any health care plan through the federal ...

Why icing doesn't work to heal injuries

date 3 hours ago

Applying ice to a muscle after injury is a commonly prescribed therapy for treating muscle bruises. But does it really speed recovery time and help the muscle to heal?

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Jan 28, 2012
Thus begins another Perception Management project designed to convince people something is "needed". They dont call it SmokeGate for nothing, nor do they call global warming ClimateGate for nothing. They are BOTH a hoax to convince the sheeple that high taxes and bans will save the planet and the people. The elite Prohibitionists that is big pharma would subjugate the "peasantry" to a feudal system with social posturing and make-believe morality. They present ridiculous evidence by determining outcomes of meta-analysis "studies" before they're even begun and perpetuate a myth that the impact smokers have on the interactions of people is automatically detrimental and always negative. Tobacco Control overlooks the fact that smokers and non-smokers have lived side by side for centuries without consequence. Pharma has caused untold damage as drug pushers for chemicals. They aren't afraid that too many smokers will harm others, they're afraid of their own demise!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.