The Correlation of Tobacco and Political Power

By Dulce Maria Ruelas
Faculty, College of Nursing and Health Care Professions

a girl breaking a cigarette

Smoking is no longer an individual economic burden but a population health complexity because of the ramifications of secondhand smoke, thirdhand smoke, environmental conditions, healthcare utilization, mortality rates, disability and quality of life. Tobacco control was initiated with the 1964 surgeon general’s report of the effects of smoking on public health (Levy, Meza, Zhang, & Holford, 2016).


Soon after that, advertising of cigarettes was banned and denounced the health effects with health warnings and labeling of smoking with lawmaking. The history of political power because of the implementation of smoke-free policies known as Smoke-Free Policies (SFPs) in the 1970s has been tardy to be well investigated (Mamudu, Dadkar, Veeranki, Barnes, & Glantz, 2014).  It was not until 1989 that different states have had their prerogative in the implementation of cigarette taxation, SFP and laws, campaigns and cessation programs (Levy et al., 2016).

Look at the historical environment. Tobacco has become highly politicized because public health concerns and issues have come to the forefront. Therefore, controlling and organizing against the tobacco industry has been a strategy by the World Health Organization. Which is a recommendation of Framework Convention and Tobacco Control and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  best practices of 2014, improve health (Ickes, Raens, Wiggins, and Hahn, 2017).

Additionally, White and Bero (2004) researched the history of how the tobacco control initiatives and how and why they ramped up in the 1990s. They found that tobacco legislation created a vulnerability for Big Tobacco, like Phillip Morris, to engage in war tactics because lobbyists were addressing age, media, ordinances, advocacy and organizational structures via project American Stop Smoking Intervention Study (ASSIS).

The current (2016) cigarette smoking rate for adults ages 18-24 was higher than those aged 65 years and older. This rate of 13.1 percent means 13 out of 100 adults are smoking.  The prevalence of cigarette smoking among individuals with higher education is at 18.9 percent which is a lower incidence than those with a GED Certificate (CDC, 2018).

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  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2018). Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance    System (BRFSS).  Retrieved from
  • Ickes, M. J., Rayens, M.K., Wiggins, A.M., & Hahn, E.J. (2017). Students’ beliefs about            and      perceived effectiveness of a tobacco-free campus policy. Policy, Politics, &        Nursing Practice, (1), 17.  doi:10.1177/1527154417700633
  • Levy, D. T., Meza, R., Zhang, Y., & Holford, T. R. (2016). Gauging the effect of U.S.            tobacco           control policies from 1965 through 2014 using simsmoke.  American Journal of    Preventive Medicine50, 535-542. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2015.10.001
  • Mamudu, H. M., Dadkar, S., Veeranki, S. P., He, Y., Barnes, R., & Glantz, S. A. (2014).            Multiple streams approach to tobacco control policymaking in a tobacco-growing           state. Journal of Community Health, 39(4), 633-45. doi: 10.1007/s10900-013   9814-6
  • White, J., & Bero, L. A. (2004). Public health under attack: The American stop smoking          intervention study (ASSIST) and the tobacco industry. American Journal of Public          Health, 94(2), 240-50.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.