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Anu Linnansaari: Supporting implementation is the key to improving public health

Tampere University
LocationArvo Ylpön katu 34, Tampere
Kauppi campus, Arvo building, auditorium F114 and via remote connection.
10.6.2023 9.00–13.00
Entrance feeFree of charge
Comprehensive implementation of healthy public policies, such as tobacco legislation, plays a crucial role in improving public health. However, research focusing on the implementation of these policies has been limited. Anu Linnansaari's doctoral thesis, which studies the implementation of tobacco policies at school and national levels, demonstrates that it is possible to support implementation by strengthening contextual factors.

Smoking still causes significant health problems, premature deaths, and health inequalities in Finland and Europe. Challenges are further exacerbated by new tobacco and nicotine products, such as e-cigarettes and nicotine pouches, which specifically appeal to young people. Healthy public policies help to build health-promoting environments and are therefore essential in preventing tobacco and nicotine use among young people.  

Master of Sport Sciences Anu Linnansaari’s doctoral dissertation addresses a significant research need in public health by studying the implementation of preventive tobacco policies at school and national levels in different European countries. Challenges are further exacerbated by smokeless and new tobacco and nicotine products, such as snus, e-cigarettes and nicotine pouches, which specifically appeal to young people. Healthy public policies help to build health-promoting environments and are therefore essential in preventing tobacco and nicotine use among young people.   

Master of Sport Sciences Anu Linnansaari’s doctoral dissertation addresses a significant research need in public health by studying the implementation of preventive tobacco policies at school and national levels in different European countries.

Linnansaari emphasises that the impact of policies always depends on their implementation. While more comprehensive implementation and more consistent enforcement of tobacco policies is needed at the national and European levels, tobacco research has thus far paid little attention to implementation. Research knowledge is required, for instance, to move towards the goal of a tobacco- and nicotine-free Finland by 2030, as outlined in Finland’s tobacco legislation.

Implementation can be supported by strengthening contextual factors

“Schools are key health-promoting environments for young people, and at the same time, the functioning of schools is closely connected to the broader society,” Linnansaari justifies her choice to extend the analysis to multiple implementation levels.

Linnansaari specifically focuses on the role of context, such as the social and societal environment, as part of implementation.

“Understanding the impact of contextual factors was supported by extensive interview data on school staff in seven European countries, as well as a strong conceptual and methodological framework for studying policy implementation,” Linnansaari says.

The results of Linnansaari’s dissertation indicate that the enforcement of school tobacco policies by school staff was influenced by their sense of responsibility, motivation, and confidence.

“Contextual factors, such as consistent staff actions and national tobacco legislation, had a significant impact on the activation of these mechanisms,” Linnansaari explains.

Nordic comparison demonstrated that the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) and EU directives have harmonised tobacco legislation among countries, but they also account for significant weaknesses, such as the inadequate regulation of new products. Advanced legislation was primarily attributed to national stakeholder collaboration.

Strengthening collaboration among actors within and between implementation levels is crucial for addressing current challenges and achieving a more comprehensive and consistent implementation of tobacco policies.

“Reinforcing implementation is a potential means to enhance health promotion and improve public health also more broadly,” emphasises Linnansaari.

Anu Linnansaari works as a public health researcher at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Tampere University.

Doctoral defence on Saturday 10 June

The doctoral thesis of M.Soc.Sc. Anu Linnansaari in the field of public health titled Implementing preventive tobacco policies: The role of contextual factors in policy implementation at school and national levels will be publicly examined at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Tampere University, on Saturday, 10 June 2023, starting at 12.00, auditorium F114 of the Arvo building (address: Arvo Ylpön katu 34, Tampere). Professor Patricia O’Campo from the University of Toronto will act as the opponent while Docent Pirjo Lindfors from Tampere University acts as the custos.

The dissertation is available online.

The public defence can be followed via a remote connection.

Photo: Mikko Linnansaari