Reactions to smoke-free public policies and smoke-free home policies in the Republic of Georgia: results from a 2014 national survey
Tobacco use, the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., can be reduced through state-level tobacco prevention and cessation programs. In the absence of research about how to communicate the need for these programs to policymakers, this qualitative study aimed to understand the motivations and priorities of policymakers in North Carolina, a state that enacted a strong tobacco control program from 2003-2011, but drastically reduced funding in recent years. Six former legislators (three Democrats, three Republicans) and three lobbyists for health organizations were interviewed about their attitudes towards tobacco use, support of state-funded programs, and reactions to two policy briefs. Five themes emerged: (1) high awareness of tobacco-related health concerns but limited awareness of program impacts and funding, (2) the primacy of economic concerns in making policy decisions, (3) ideological differences in views of the state's role in tobacco control, (4) the impact of lobbyist and constituent in-person appeals, and (5) the utility of concise, contextualized data. These findings suggest that building relationships with policymakers to communicate ongoing program outcomes, emphasizing economic data, and developing a constituent advocacy group would be valuable to encourage continued support of state tobacco control programs.