Prevention projects investigate trends and use of contraband products, the effect of pricing on the brand preferences of young people, new approaches to youth access policy compliance, the influence of student and school level characteristics on student tobacco use behaviour, predictors of tobacco use comorbilities among young adults, the factors related to the retail environment that influence health outcomes and options for reducing tobacco retail outlet density.

Current Prevention Projects

Cigarette Brands Smoked by Ontario Youth

Focus Areas: Youth, Contraband, Pricing

Tobacco use among Ontario youth continues to be influenced greatly by the availability of contraband; but other factors may also be at play in the brand choices made by youth. This project explores patterns of youth cigarette use across the last 3 cycles of the Youth Smoking Survey using information about purchase of different brands of cigarettes including contraband, premium brands, discount brands, roll your own. These analyses will help to inform strategies for countering tobacco marketing to youth.

Creating Healthy Retail Environments

Focus Areas: Availability, Retail Environment, Policy

The number one recommendation made by Tobacco Scientific Advisory Committee for the renewal of the Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy focused on the retailing of tobacco. This project explores a potential policy solution to work in partnership with retailers to develop or encourage healthy retail environments. Across North America, including in Ontario, jurisdictions are aiming to partner with small retailers to promote health, particularly in rural and underserviced neighbourhoods. However, most existing programs and policies have focused primarily on addressing food availability and research is needed to understand the impact of these policies and how they may be expanded to address tobacco control.

Estimating the Size of the Cigarette Contraband Market in Canada

Focus Areas: Contraband

Decades of research have produced overwhelming evidence that tobacco taxes can reduce tobacco use, save lives and increase government tax revenue. The effectiveness of taxes at reducing tobacco use provides a strong incentive for tobacco users and manufacturers to devise ways to avoid or evade tobacco taxes. This study documents levels and trends in tobacco users’ consumption of contraband cigarettes. Additionally, the size of the cigarette contraband market will be estimated by contrasting estimates of legal cigarettes sales with consumption estimates based on survey data.

Formative Evaluation of Risk-Based Enforcement Pilot

Focus Areas: Enforcement, Youth Access

This project evaluates pilot projects for a new risk-based enforcement regime. OTRU, along with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Health Promotion Division, is working with three public health units to tailor and pilot new evidence-informed tobacco control enforcement approaches to youth access policy compliance. The project involves subsequent evaluation of this approach in the participating public health units.

Identifying High-Risk School Environments for Tobacco Use

Focus Areas: Youth, Schools, Policies, Programs

Determining the school-level characteristics that are associated with different youth tobacco use behaviours would provide valuable insight for informing the future development, tailoring and targeting of school-based tobacco control initiatives to where they are most likely to have impact. The 2010-11 Youth Smoking Survey (YSS) is a nationally representative sample of Canadian youth in grades 9 to12 attending public and private schools in 9 Canadian provinces. The present study will explore student-level data, and program and policy data, and built environment data for all of the secondary schools who participated in the 2010-11 YSS (school-level data).

Intervention Research on the New Rapidly Unfolding Ontario Tobacco Strategy: Policy Window for a Population Health Model of Tobacco Retail Sales

Focus Areas: Availability, Outlet Density

Despite advances, tobacco control policy has not yet addressed the physical availability of tobacco products in the retail environment. These products are sold in corner stores, grocery stores and gas stations putting them within easy reach of those most vulnerable to nicotine addiction, especially youth and lower socioeconomic groups.

There is a need to address the problem of widespread availability of tobacco products in the retail environment. However, more research is needed in order to be able to recommend specific policy interventions. This project addresses this need by analyzing and evaluating options for reducing tobacco retail outlet density.

Smoking Co-morbidities during the Transition from High School Post-Graduation: A Scoping Review

Focus Areas: Tobacco and Other Drugs, Mental Health

Cigarette smoking prevalence rates increase substantially during the transition from adolescence to young adulthood, and many young people initiate smoking after the age of 18. Young adulthood is also a time when co-occurring health risk behaviours and issues, such as problem drinking, illicit drug use, and mental health problems may begin to emerge.

This project undertakes a scoping review of existing evidence on tobacco use co-morbidities among young adults during the transition from high school post-graduation to contribute to a greater understanding of prevalence and predictors of tobacco use co-morbidities, co-use of other substances, and comorbid mental health problems.