Does Level of Tobacco Control Relate to Smoking Prevalence in Canada: A National Survey of Public Health Organizations

Nancy Hanusaik, Katerina Maximova, Natalie Kishchuk, Michèle Tremblay, Gilles Paradis, Jennifer O'Loughlin


Objectives: To describe levels of tobacco control “effort” in public health organizations across provinces, and to test the hypothesis that “effort” is associated with the prevalence of daily smoking.

Methods: Data were drawn from a national survey (Oct 2004-Apr 2005) of all public health organizations engaged in chronic disease prevention in Canada in 2004. We investigated the association between “effort” and decline in smoking prevalence (CTUMS, 1999-2009) across provinces in an ecologic study design. “Effort” was assessed using two indicators: percent of public health organizations engaged in tobacco control, and mean level of involvement in engaged organizations.

Results: Of 216 organizations, 88% had undertaken tobacco control activities in the three years prior to data collection and were categorized as “engaged”. Level of involvement in tobacco control was highest in community-at-large settings; and it was generally higher for population- than for individual-level strategies. Nova Scotia reported higher levels of involvement than other provinces. There was substantial variability in “effort” across provinces. High-”effort” provinces (BC, NS, ON, QC) experienced, on average, improvement in the “change in smoking prevalence” score (1999 to 2009).

Conclusion: The findings provide evidence that provincial tobacco control “effort” relates to declines in smoking prevalence. Given that smoking remains a critical public health issue, the kinds of data reported herein are needed to inform the debate on how best to invest in tobacco control infrastructure to combat the most important public health threat of our times.

Key words: Tobacco control; public health; organizational survey; ecologic study; Canada


tobacco control, public health, organizational survey, ecologic study, Canada

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