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Dimensions underlying legislator support for tobacco control policies
  1. N A de Guia1,
  2. J E Cohen1,
  3. M J Ashley1,
  4. R Ferrence1,
  5. J Rehm2,
  6. D T Studlar3,
  7. D Northrup4
  1. 1Ontario Tobacco Research Unit, Centre for Health Promotion, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3West Virginia University, Morgantown, USA
  4. 4Institute for Social Research, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to:
 Nicole de Guia, Canadian Institute for Health Information, 90 Eglinton Ave. East Suite 300, Toronto, Ontario M4 2Y3, Canada; 


Objective: To propose and test a new classification system for characterising legislator support for various tobacco control policies.

Design: Cross sectional study.

Subjects: Federal and provincial legislators in Canada serving as of October 1996 who participated in the Canadian Legislator Study (n = 553; response rate 54%).

Main outcome measures: A three factor model (Voters, Tobacco industry, Other interest groups) that assigns nine tobacco control policies according to legislators’ hypothesised perceptions of which group is more directly affected by these policies.

Results: Based on confirmatory factor analysis, the proposed model had an acceptable fit and showed construct validity. Multivariate analysis indicated that three of the predictors (believing that the government has a role in health promotion, being a non-smoker, and knowledge that there are more tobacco than alcohol caused deaths) were associated with all three factor scales. Several variables were associated with two of the three scales. Some were unique to each scale.

Conclusions: Based on our analyses, legislator support for tobacco control policies can be grouped according to our a priori factor model. The information gained from this work can help advocates understand how legislators think about different types of tobacco control policies. This could lead to the development of more effective advocacy strategies.

  • legislation
  • Canada
  • confirmatory factor analysis

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  • * The exception was the item on mandatory plain packaging that was posed only to legislators who thought this was within the government’s jurisdiction (n = 365).

  • Rectangles represent measured variables, while circles represent factors (latent variables). Parameter estimates, or loadings, are shown above the arrows from the factors to the measured variables. The higher the loading (1 = perfect correlation), the stronger the relation between the measured variable and the factor. The respective error variances—that is, the variances in the measures not explained by the latent variables—are shown above the arrow to the left of each measured variable.

  • First, legislators located their political views on a 10 point left–right bipolar scale, with 1 indicating far left and 10 indicating far right. Twenty five per cent of respondents were not asked this item because it was added to the survey after interviews began. Second, legislators were asked whether they thought the level of government regulation of the private sector was too little, too much, or about right. Third, a Health Promotion Ideology Scale (HPIS) was created based on five items on the duty of the state to promote healthy lifestyles: (1) should the government have a major role in promoting healthy lifestyles or is this the responsibility of the individual? (2) does the government have a major responsibility, some responsibility or no responsibility for encouraging healthy eating habits? (3) for preventing alcohol abuse? and (4) for encouraging people to be physically active? and (5) would the cost of health care be lower if more money were put into health promotion programmes? The five items were standardised and summed to form the HPIS, which had a reliability coefficient of 0.80.

  • § The bipolar ideology scale was dropped to increase the sample size. Because the receptivity to contact by non-profit health lobbyists item was significantly correlated with the item regarding medical association lobbyists (r = 0.47), the former item was dropped.

  • * Now with the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Toronto, Canada

  • Also Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Toronto, Canada

  • Also Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Toronto, and Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Canada

  • § Also Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Canada