Predictors of Canadian legislators' support for tobacco control policies

Joanna E. Cohen, Nicole A. De Guia, Mary Jane Ashley, Roberta Ferrence, David A. Northrup, Donley T. Studlar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


It is clear that regulatory strategies can be effective in reducing tobacco use. Because legislators ultimately determine whether many of these policies are enacted, they are a key focus for tobacco policy research. This study identifies political and personal predictors of Canadian legislators' support for tobacco control policies. Data are from a 1996-97 survey of federal, provincial and territorial legislators. Multivariate regression analysis was used to assess relationships between five groups of variables (political factors including political ideology, personal characteristics, tobacco experiences, tobacco knowledge, interest group saliency) and support for tobacco control based on an 11-item scale. Support for tobacco control varied by political party. Support was higher among legislators who thought government had a duty to promote healthy lifestyles, knew second-hand smoke could cause lung cancer, knew tobacco caused more deaths than alcohol, and said they wanted more contact with medical associations about tobacco issues. Support was lower among current smokers and those with tobacco industry jobs in their ridings. The findings indicate that political party membership cannot be ignored in enlisting legislator support for tobacco control. It also appears that legislators who oppose tobacco control measures may not be opposed to tobacco control per se, but are more generally opposed to a government role in health promotion. Thus, public health professionals and tobacco control advocates need to be more attentive to the way tobacco control issues are framed for particular legislators. Further, meetings with health groups about tobacco issues would be welcomed by many legislators; non-governmental organizations and other health advocates could work to increase tobacco knowledge among legislators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1069-1076
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Canada
  • Legislators
  • Policy
  • Support
  • Tobacco control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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