From 1996 to 1997, staff at Battelle Memorial Institute, Baltimore, carried out 10 in-depth ethnographic studies that supplemented a study of vendor compliance with laws restricting minors' access to tobacco conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Office on Smoking and Health.
The ethnographic studies were intended to provide a better understanding of the community-level factors affecting the use of tobacco by minors in 10 of the 20 communities covered by the vendor compliance study.
- Communities gave lower priority to tobacco addiction than to problems affecting adolescents such as violence and drug and alcohol abuse.
- Multiple organizations and institutions were involved in preventing children from beginning to use tobacco in each of the study sites.
- Local affiliates of national voluntary health organizations were a very important source of materials, programs, and expertise for public and private tobacco control agencies at the local level.
- Local tobacco control coalitions, found in six of the ten communities, played a role in both legislative and grassroots advocacy.
- Tobacco education was present in all schools, but was usually one part of a brief substance abuse section in a crowded health education curriculum.
- Smoking was prohibited in school buildings, on school grounds in all sites, and at school-related activities in all but one site, but only three sites designated areas around schools as smoke-free.