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Bridging the Ideological Divide: : An Analysis of Views on Tobacco Policy Across the Political Spectrum

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This report is the first major effort to neutrally present the views of both sides of the political spectrum on the issue of tobacco policy. The paper presents both liberal and conservative perspectives on tobacco-related issues, policy options to reduce tobacco-related disease and death, and barriers to collaboration on tobacco policy. According to this study, individuals on the liberal side are traditionally concerned with the health consequences of cigarette smoking and often propose strategies to deal with it. Conservative representatives typically consider the tobacco debate a war between the ideological camps, creating an "us against them" mentality. Although this study focuses on the extreme left and right, it recognizes the importance of those who dissent from their political affiliations on tobacco related issues as facilitators of collaboration and communication. It is essential that all policy-makers, regardless of political orientation, become educated about the health consequences related to cigarette smoking. "Bridging the Ideological Divide" is part of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation effort to improve the understanding of the complexity of national policy-making and its potential role in reducing tobacco use.