Are State Legislatures Responding to Public Opinion When Allocating Funds for Tobacco Control Programs?

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Abstract

This study explored the factors associated with state-level allocations to tobacco-control programs. The primary research question was whether public sentiment regarding tobacco control was a significant factor in the states’ 2001 budget decisions. In addition to public opinion, several additional political and economic measures were considered. Significant associations were found between our outcome, state-level tobaccocontrol funding per capita, and key variables of interest including public opinion, amount of tobacco settlement received, the party affiliation of the governor, the state’s smoking rate, excise tax revenue received, and whether the state was a major producer of tobacco. The findings from this study supported our hypothesis that states with citizens who favor more restrictive indoor air policies allocate more to tobacco control. Effective public education to change public opinion and the cultural norms surrounding smoking may affect political decisions and, in turn, increase funding for crucial public health programs.

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