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Keywords:

  • Environmental tobacco smoke pollution;
  • rural communities;
  • strength of tobacco control;
  • tobacco control

Abstract

Purpose: This study aimed to: (a) describe the Strength of Tobacco Control (SoTC) capacity, efforts and resources in rural communities, and (b) examine the relationships between SoTC scores and sociodemographic, political, and health-ranking variables.

Methods: Data were collected during the baseline preintervention phase of a community-based randomized, controlled trial. Rural counties were selected using stratified random sampling (n = 39). Key informant interviews were employed. The SoTC, originally developed and tested with states, was adapted to a county-level measure assessing capacity, efforts, and resources. Univariate analysis and bivariate correlations assessed the SoTC total score and construct scores, as well as their relationships. Multiple regression examined the relationships of county-level sociodemographic, political, and health-ranking variables with SoTC total and construct scores.

Findings: County population size was positively correlated with capacity (r = 0.44; P < .01), efforts (r = 0.54; P= .01), and SoTC total score (r = 0.51; P < .01). Communities with more resources for tobacco control had better overall county health rankings (r = .43; P < .01). With population size, percent Caucasian, tobacco production, and smoking prevalence as potential predictors of SoTC total score, only population size was significant.

Conclusions: SoTC scores may be useful in determining local tobacco control efforts and appropriate planning for additional public health interventions and resources. Larger rural communities were more likely to have strong tobacco control programs than smaller communities. Smaller rural communities may need to be targeted for training and technical assistance. Leadership development and allocation of resources are needed in all rural communities to address disparities in tobacco use and tobacco control policies.