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Policy Research to Denormalize Tobacco Use in CA-Pacific Rim

Institution: University of California, San Francisco
Investigator(s): Jeremiah Mock, M.Sc., Ph.D.
Award Cycle: 2019 (Cycle 28) Grant #: 28MT-0082 Award: $935,668
Subject Area: State and Local Tobacco Control Policy Research
Award Type: Mackay CA-Pac Rim Tobacco Policy Sc

Initial Award Abstract

Smoking and vaping in the outdoors are considered to be normal and acceptable in California and throughout the Pacific Rim region. However, tobacco use in the outdoors produces secondhand smoke exposure (SHS), toxic tobacco product waste (TPW) and fire hazards. Little is known about the causes of the cultural norm that smoking in the outdoors is acceptable, about the tobacco industry’s role in creating this norm, or about the amount of TPW tossed into parks and beaches. Also, little is known about how to gain public support for policies that will promote smoke-free and vape-free outdoor places, or about how to enforce such policies so that people no longer smoke in the outdoors or toss their cigarette butts. The aims of this study are to:

A1   Identify factors driving the cultural norm that it is socially acceptable for smokers to smoke in the outdoors by analyzing past and current tobacco industry advertising, social media and political strategies in California, Thailand and Japan.
A2   Analyze smoking in parks and beaches where tobacco use has been banned and not banned in California, Thailand and Japan by documenting SHS exposures, TPW contamination, enforcement achievements and problems with compliance.
A3   Assess governmental and NGO policies and practices in California, Thailand and Japan to identify approaches that have been effective in contributing to the ending of tobacco use in the outdoors and can be used throughout the Pacific Rim.

I will collect data using multiple methods and I will compare data from different sources as I do the study to produce a comprehensive analysis and make policy recommendations.
For A1, I will conduct systematic searches and analysis of tobacco industry documents to investigate industry strategies and practices used in California, Thailand and Japan. I will also analyze tobacco advertising designed to promote smoking in the outdoors.
For A2, I will conduct observations and interviews with staff at parks and beaches where smoking is banned to identify effective/deficient enforcement in California, Thailand and Japan. Then, I will compare these sites with parks and beaches where smoking is not banned.
For A3, I will review government and NGO reports and conduct key informant interviews with staff. I will assess the effectiveness of strategies and approaches to policymaking and advocacy using data I generate on industry political strategies and marketing, and from my assessment of current patterns of tobacco use and TPW disposal in parks and beaches.

Findings from this research will contribute to informing policymakers who are considering banning smoking and vaping in the outdoors. This study will also produce recommendations for developing effective enforcement of bans to achieve an end to the cultural norm of tobacco use in the outdoors in California and the Pacific Rim region. This will make it possible for the environment to become cleaner and for everyone to be able to enjoy the great outdoors.