Tobacco Policy Research and Evaluation Program

An RWJF National Program

Dates of Program: January 1992 to September 1998

Field of Work: Policy research aimed at helping public and private policymakers adopt policies to reduce tobacco use, especially among children and youth.

Problem Synopsis: Tobacco is the number one preventable health risk. In response to the statistics on the substantial health consequences of tobacco use, public health officials and others were calling on federal, state, and local governments to enact laws to limit tobacco product marketing and use. A strong consensus was building within the tobacco control field about the importance of population-based public policy interventions to reduce tobacco use. However, groundwork in the 1980s by several key organizations, including the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute, showed that little empirical research existed to inform policymakers about the likely impact of alternative policy measures.

Synopsis of the Work: Under the Tobacco Policy Research and Evaluation Program, investigators from diverse disciplines conducted policy research aimed at helping public and private policymakers adopt policies to reduce tobacco use, especially among children and youth. Researchers came from medicine, health economics, political science, public health, sociology, psychology, criminal justice, and law. Twenty-two research projects received funding through two rounds of grantmaking.

Key Results

  • An evaluation of the program by the Lewin Group, Fairfax, Va., reported the following:

    • Research and researchers supported by the national program made material contributions to the national debate on tobacco policy.
    • The program generated high quality research and achieved widespread dissemination of its findings, including articles in leading journals and testimony in court cases.
    • The impact of the national program was heightened because the program supported research that was innovative and was performed by accomplished researchers, about 25 percent of whom were relatively new to tobacco policy research.
    • The projects helped to identify priority topics for future tobacco policy investigations and stimulated follow-up research by the project directors themselves.
    • The projects also coincided with an overall increase in the number of peer-reviewed policy articles related to tobacco over the past 11 years.
    • As of the date of the evaluation report, January 1997, the studies supported under the Tobacco Policy Research Program had produced 39 articles in peer-reviewed journals and 54 presentations at professional conferences.