Going Online to Get Tobacco Control Information

Researching the information needs of tobacco-control supporters

From November 1999 to January 2000, the nonprofit Advocacy Institute, Washington, continued disseminating tobacco control information through its online network and to explore other options for disseminating this information.

For nearly a decade, the Advocacy Institute had provided a Daily News Bulletin for tobacco control experts through its Smoking Control Advocacy Resource Center Network (SCARCNet), primarily with funding from the National Cancer Institute. When support for SCARCNet ended in September 1999, the Advocacy Institute obtained funding to continue to disseminate it.

The Daily News Bulletin ceased operations in January 2000.

Also in 2000, Sutton Social Marketing, a research firm in Washington, reexamined the information needs of the tobacco control community and explored other options for providing that information.

The company surveyed 301 tobacco control advocates.

Key Results

  • The survey found:

    • The Internet is the main source of tobacco control information for tobacco control advocates.
    • Tobacco control advocates generally give mediocre ratings to the information they receive from current sources, in terms of such qualities as its accessibility, timeliness, comprehensiveness, or understandability.
    • Among advocates who previously used SCARCNet, three key features are missed:
      • Its summaries and analysis.
      • Its interactivity, including "alerts" about tobacco industry activities.
      • Its role as a searchable central source with a wide choice of other sources.