Why do we conduct surveys?
Every two years we hire Siena Research Institute to find out how people in Columbia and Greene Counties feel about tobacco being sold in close proximity to schools and other questions related to the sale of tobacco. Siena conducts telephone interviews with 350 residents in each county about their tobacco usage and receptiveness to regulatory policies. Measuring public opinion helps us understand how effective our education and media campaigns have been, tracks changes in public support for specific regulations, and gives us concrete data to present to elected officials who are charged with protecting and promoting public health.
We are most interested in learning what people think about regulations that would make tobacco less visible, accessible and appealing because these are effective ways to prevent youth smoking and motivate users to quit. Ideally, we want to see that over time survey results show increasing public support for these measures. Ultimately, we hope municipalities will take legal action to put one or more of these policies in place.
In our 2020 Community Survey, we found that smoking rates have been steadily declining in Columbia and Greene Counties.
In Greene County, 64% of respondents were in favor of banning the sale of tobacco near schools, and 45% supported policies that would limit the overall number of tobacco retailers. In Columbia County, 68% supported banning tobacco sales near schools, and 50% supported policies to reduce the density of tobacco retailers.