Tobacco Control Studies

CSR researchers have conducted an extensive program of research on tobacco use and tobacco control strategies. These include

Massachusetts Tobacco Control Program

Under contract to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, CSR conducted telephone surveys of adults and youth in Massachusetts in order to track the population impact of the Massachusetts Tobacco Control Program between1993 and 2000. These surveys assessed tobacco use behavior, beliefs about tobacco use, and attitudes towards a variety of tobacco control policies. The data collected during this period served both to evaluate the impact of the intensive antitobacco program on the smoking prevalence among Massachusetts adults and teens, and to provide the basis for in depth analysis of the response to pro and antitobacco media campaigns, restaurant smoking bans, which were becoming more and more prevalent, and over-the-counter availability of nicotine replacement therapy.

Studies of Tobacco Marketing and Promotion

With funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Substance Abuse Policy Research Program, CSR researchers conducted a longitudinal examination of the consequences of youth involvement with tobacco advertising and promotional schemes. Findings have been published in several articles documenting the impact of that involvement on subsequent smoking initiation.

As the practice of promoting cigarette brands through special promotions in bars and clubs increased, CSR researchers carried out an observational study of a representative sample of Boston area night spots to assess the prevalence of these promotions. PDAs were used to collect systematic data in 44 venues and their managers were interviewed by phone.

Studies of antitobacco mass media campaigns

Televised antitobacco advertisements are a central component of many publicly funded tobacco control programs. The CSR tobacco control research program has been investigating the impact of such campaigns on smoking behavior. A series of studies analyze the relative effectiveness of different advertising approaches, looking in detail at youth and adult reactions to highly emotional advertisements and those that vary in terms of predominant theme or message.

UMass Tobacco Study

Funded by the National Cancer Institute, this longitudinal study was designed to investigate the effectiveness of three major types of public health interventions used by the Massachusetts Tobacco Control Program: local clean indoor air policies, local policies to restrict youth access to tobacco products and televised antitobacco media campaigns. The data come from two sources:

  • A population-based telephone survey of Massachusetts adults and youth ages 12 to 17 in 2000/2001 and two longitudinal follow-up surveys two and four years after the original survey.
  • Town-level data drawn primarily from local programs funded by the state's 1993 tobacco tax. The town-level data are linked to individual survey data based on the respondent's town of residence.

The researchers are investigating whether the strength, duration and enforcement of local clean indoor air ordinances (for example restaurant smoking bans) and youth access ordinances (for example fines to vendors found selling tobacco products to teens) leads to changes in the attitudes and smoking behaviors of youth and adults. They are also evaluating respondents' exposure to the antitobacco media campaign to determine whether these campaigns have a measurable impact on smoking behavior. The long term objective of this project is to provide guidance to states and communities on the most effective ways to design and evaluate tobacco control interventions.

Consumer perception of new tobacco products

Tobacco companies have been developing new products, both combustible and non-combustible, some of which are purported to be less harmful than conventional cigarettes.  They are known as “potentially reduced exposure products” or PREPs.  CSR researchers carried out a comprehensive review and evaluation of existing measures of awareness and perceptions of PREPs and led a collaborative effort to develop survey measures of awareness and perceptions of the new products.  Other research is investigating awareness and use of the new smokeless, spitless tobacco (called “snus”) and  developing health communications that will reduce the potential for misperception.