Insights into media messaging on Tobacco 21 health policy
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT REQUEST OF AUTHOR.] To effectively diffuse Tobacco 21 policy to raise the minimum sale age of tobacco products to 21, health professionals need to gain the acceptance and support of policymakers. Well researched, powerful messaging must be created to capture the target's attention. Although preliminary surveillance data and modeling find this policy decreases tobacco use among high school students, American's value of civil liberties is dominating the opposition's argument to resist policy diffusion. This research explores policy descriptors and the difference in attitudes and beliefs towards Tobacco 21 policy in local policymakers exposed to news media containing different pro-tobacco control frames and source of knowledge. No differences were found between framing or source of knowledge of media on attitudes and beliefs toward Tobacco 21. When policymakers turn to media to get policy information they look to newspapers, both print and online, as their primary news source. Compared to other policies, tobacco policy rates low as a priority by local officials. Tobacco 21 is in the early stages of diffusion, with over half of policymakers unaware, and currently gaining knowledge to form favorable or unfavorable attitudes towards the policy. A large majority of policymakers believe Tobacco 21 will benefit the health of the community, but just over a third were willing to vote in support. Almost equal portions were undecided or unsupportive. This is an important time for health professionals to share knowledge through news media on the benefits of Tobacco 21 with these decision makers.
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