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Youth-driven tobacco policy change

Institution: WestEd
Investigator(s): Cynthia Simpson, M.S., M.A. Norman Constantine, Ph.D.
Award Cycle: 1999 (Cycle 8) Grant #: 8AT-2601 Award: $93,330
Subject Area: Public Health, Public Policy, and Economics
Award Type: Full CARA

Initial Award Abstract
This study will investigate a novel and innovative approach to reducing teenage tobacco use and positively impacting tobacco-related attitudes, beliefs and behaviors among youth. Specifically, we will study a community-level program that has impacted community tobacco policy in Contra Costa County. The proposed program to be studied, Tobacco Industry Gets Hammered by Teens (TIGHT) employs youth-mobilization strategies to involve a diverse group of youth ages 14 to 25 in joining anti-tobacco efforts to shape the future of county-level tobacco policies.

Tobacco marketing is a primary contributor to youth tobacco use. As the population ages the tobacco industry will turn increasingly to youth as a source of new revenue. Recent indicators show that while tobacco use has steadily declined among adults for the last decade, smoking rates among high school youth have increased 36% between 1991 and 1997, most notably among African American males, pregnant teens, and 12-13 year children.

This study is to generate evidence for the value of youth-mobilization strategies for community tobacco policy change, as well as for the youth themselves. Out- study is designed to promote understanding of the mechanisms of youth mobilization strategies in a variety of community contexts, and to demonstrate the concurrent enhancement of protective factors, resilience traits and tobacco resistance in participating youth. Results will be used to assist other communities in replicating the TIGHT model.

Through an in-depth investigation and analysis of youth and community mobilization-related issues, we will document and analyze community-level change in a variety of contexts. Further, we will assess developmental supports, protective factors, enhancement of resilience traits and positive tobacco outcomes experienced by youth as a result of their tobacco-focused community activism experiences. Specifically, this study will assess whether youth-driven community actions are an effective way to create changes in local tobacco-related policies. The relationship between tobacco-related actions and changes is theorized to be mediated by a community's readiness-for-change. Second, we will investigate whether participating youth experience increases in developmental supports, enhancement of resilience traits, and positive change in tobacco-related knowledge, attitudes, intentions and behaviors. The study design aims to assess process, outcomes and mediating factors of youth-driven community actions and community change, as well as impact on youth themselves.

We will employ a mixed methods qualitative and quantitative design focusing simultaneously on selected communities and on participating youth. Quantitative data collection strategies will include selfadministered surveys and cross-site tracking of community actions and community change. Qualitative data will include interviews and focus groups conducted in each year of the study.