DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Little is known about if and how policies implemented at the local level are related to youth smoking, the use of alternative sources of cigarettes, and to changes in smoking over time. Understanding the effects of local strategies is critical to help establish best practices to address this public health issue. To this end, we propose to build upon a research component (Component #5: Local Policies, Enforcement, and Underage Drinking; Component Directors: M.J. Paschall and J.W. Grube) that is part of a currently funded NIAAA Center Grant (P60 AA006282-26, Environmental Approaches to Prevention; P.I.: P. Gruenewald). This Center Grant component focuses on the effects of local alcohol policies and enforcement in 50 California communities on youth drinking. We propose to expand this Center Grant study by (a) adding a series of items to the longitudinal youth survey being fielded as a part of the Center Grant in order to address tobacco-related beliefs and behaviors, (b) undertaking systematic reviews of and coding the comprehensiveness and effectiveness of local ordinances and policies in each of the 50 communities, (c) conducting key informant interviews with city administrators, school officials, and police to further document local policies and to ascertain levels of enforcement, and (d) conducting tobacco purchase surveys in each of the 50 communities to ascertain local merchant compliance rates and prices for cigarettes. The study will proceed from a conceptual model that includes community-level and individual-level factors. The model specifies how the effects of policy and other community variables are mediated through and moderate the effects of individual-level variables. Multi-level regression and latent variable structural equations models will be used to investigate relations between policies and smoking among youth in the communities and test hypotheses generated by the model. The ultimate goal of this research is to provide a better understanding of how local tobacco policies are associated with adolescent smoking. This information will provide a basis for implementing more effective community interventions to reduce and prevent adolescent smoking and its associated risks. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: The results of this investigation will have important implications for the development and implementation of youth tobacco control policy and practice. It will help inform policymakers regarding the effectiveness of local ordinances to restrict youth access to tobacco, set community norms, and directly deter youth smoking. Thus the findings from this study will help policymakers make decisions regarding allocation of scarce prevention resources. More generally, this project will help to bridge the gap between research and practice.
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