AJPH April 2017 Highlights

Date: Apr 20 2017

AJPH Research: Public opinion on guns, SSB media campaign, college marijuana use

CONTACT: For copies of articles, contact David Fouse, 202-777-2501.

American Journal of Public Health research highlights:

Two-thirds of Americans say guns should not be allowed to be carried in public places

Researchers estimated U.S. public opinion about the public places where legal gun owners should be allowed to carry firearms. They conducted an online survey among 3,949 adults, including gun owners and veterans, in April 2015, and generated nationally representative estimates.

Results showed that fewer than one in three U.S. adults supported gun carrying in any of the specified venues, which included college campuses, places of worship, government buildings, schools, bars and sports stadiums. Support for carrying in public was consistently higher among gun owners than among non-gun owners. Overall, support for carrying in public was lowest for schools, bars and sports stadiums.

“Most Americans, including most gun owners, support restricting public places legal gun owners can carry firearms. These views contrast sharply with the current trend in state legislatures of expanding where, how and by whom guns can be carried in public,” the authors explained. “Recent state laws and proposed federal legislation that would force states to honor out of state concealed carry permits are out of step with American public opinion.”

[“U.S. Public Opinion on Carrying Firearms in Public Places.” Contact: Julia Wolfson, PhD, MPP, Department of Health Management and Policy, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, Michigan.]

Media campaign on sugar-sweetened beverages changes beliefs, consumption in rural U.S. area

Researchers evaluated a mass media campaign to reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, or SSBs. They shared messages emphasizing the health risks of SSBs through television, digital channels and local organizations over 15 weeks in 2015-2016 in the Tri-Cities region of northeast Tennessee, southwest Virginia and southeast Kentucky. They evaluated the campaign with pre- and post- telephone surveys of adults 18 to 45 years old in the intervention area, and changes in beverage sales in the intervention area and a matched comparison area in western Virginia.

Results showed that 54 percent of post-campaign survey respondents recalled seeing a campaign advertisement. After the campaign, 53 percent of respondents believed SSBs were a cause of heart disease, and compared to pre-campaign, respondents were 15 percent more likely to consider SSBs a “big cause of diabetes.” Compared to 12 months before, after the start of the campaign there was a 3.4 percent decline in sales of SSBs, including a 4.1 percent decline in sales of soda in the intervention area relative to the comparison area.

“This brief media campaign on SSBs was followed by intended changes in beliefs and consumption,” the authors explained. “Additional media campaigns on SSBs should be attempted and evaluated.”

[“Mass Media Campaign to Reduce Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages in a Rural Area of the United States.” Contact: Thomas A. Farley, MD, MPH, Philadelphia Department of Public Health, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.]

College youth significantly more likely to initiate marijuana use than non-college peers

Researchers examined a potential increase in marijuana initiation among U.S. college students compared with their peers not in college before and after 2013 – a watershed year for increasing tolerance of marijuana use in the U.S. Researchers used data from the Monitoring the Future study to analyze panel members 19-22 years old who had never used marijuana by 12th grade between 1977 and 2015.

Results showed that college as a risk factor for marijuana initiation has increased significantly since 2013. The increased probability of past-year marijuana use for those enrolled versus not enrolled in college was 51 percent in 2015, 41 percent in 2014 and 31 percent in 2013; it averaged 17-22 percent from 1977 to 2012 among youths who had never used marijuana by 12th grade.

“College has grown as a risk factor for marijuana initiation since 2013,” the authors explained. “College students are in a position to usher in new increases in population marijuana use unless colleges soon address the issue with new or modified programs for marijuana prevention and intervention.”

[“The Influence of College Attendance on Risk for Marijuana Initiation in the United States.” Contact: Richard A. Miech, PhD, MPH, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.]

Find a full list of AJPH research papers published online on April 20, 2017, at 4 p.m. EDT below: 

  • U.S. Public Opinion on Carrying Firearms in Public Places
  • Mass Media Campaign to Reduce Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages in a Rural Area of the United States
  • The Influence of College Attendance on Risk for Marijuana Initiation in the United States
  • Measures of Local Segregation for Monitoring Health Inequities by Local Health Departments
  • Effect of Legislation on Indoor Tanning Prevalence in Alabama
  • A Significant and Quiet Threat to Public Health in the United States: State Preemption
  • Machine Learning for Social Services: A Study of Prenatal Case Management in Illinois
  • Humanitarian Needs Among Displaced and Female-Headed Households in Government-Controlled Areas of Syria
  • Medicaid Expansion and ACA Repeal: Evidence From Ohio
  • Trends in Fighting and Violence Among Adolescents in the United States: Evidence From the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2002–2014
  • The Monetary Cost of Sexual Assault to Privately Insured US Women in 2013
  • Small-Group Randomized Controlled Trial to Increase Condom Use and HIV Testing Among Hispanic/Latino Gay, Bisexual, and Other Men Who Have Sex With Men
  • Overview of Asian American Data Collection, Release, and Analysis: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2011–2018

The articles above were published online April 20, 2017, at 4 p.m. EDT by AJPH under “First Look.” “First Look” articles have undergone peer review, copyediting and approval by authors but have not yet been printed to paper or posted online by issue. AJPH is published by the American Public Health Association, and is available at www.ajph.org.

Complimentary online access to the Journal is available to credentialed members of the media. Address inquiries to Mandi Yohn at APHA, 202-777-2509, or email her. A single print issue of the Journal is available for $35 from the Journal’s Subscriptions Department. If you are not a member of the press, a member of APHA or a subscriber, online single issue access is $30, and online single article access is $22 at www.ajph.org. For direct customer service, call 202-777-2516, or email us.

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The American Journal of Public Health is the monthly journal of the American Public Health Association. APHA champions the health of all people and all communities. We strengthen the public health profession. We speak out for public health issues and policies backed by science. We are the only organization that influences federal policy, has a 145 year perspective and brings together members from all fields of public health. Visit www.apha.org