Why conduct public opinion surveys?

Conducting public opinion surveys is an important part of an overall community assessment and can help your community determine its point-of-sale tobacco control strategy. Public opinion surveys can be used to:

  • Measure initial support for tobacco control strategies.
  • Determine policies that require education and outreach campaigns to build support (i.e., those with lower levels of public support).
  • Assess community norms and assumptions to inform media campaigns and determine policy receptivity in the community [1]
  • Help determine how to frame your messaging when educating the community and advocating for the policy.
  • Evaluate effectiveness of education and outreach campaigns with follow-up data
  • Inform policy priorities. In general, policies with greater support are more likely to pass.
  • Provide data to advocate for policy change.
  • Evaluate the impact of policies.

How to conduct public opinion surveys

You can craft a public opinion survey specific to point-of-sale issues or you may be able to incorporate measures into existing surveys. When developing a public opinion survey, consider requesting the following information:

Examples of public opinion survey results

New York City Support for Point-of-Sale Tobacco Control Policies: Raising the minimum age to purchase cigarettes from 18 to 21 = 67%, Prohibiting stores located near schools from selling tobacco = 66%, Requiring retailers to keep toabcco products out of customers' view = 59%, Prohibting pharmacies from selling tobacco = 60%, Prohibiting toabcco companies from paying New York City retailers to display their products and advertisements = 55%, Requiring that tobacco be sold only in stores that sell only tobacco products and nothing else = 49%

Use of public opinion survey results

To learn more about how communities have used public opinion surveys, review the following resources:

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