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Public Health Rep. 2002 May-Jun; 117(3): 291–298.
PMCID: PMC1497429

Assessing the evidence submitted in the development of a workplace smoking regulation: the case of Maryland.


OBJECTIVE: This study compared the characteristics of the basic science, biomedical, and socioeconomic literature submitted in 1993-1994 by supporters and opponents of the proposed workplace regulation of tobacco smoke developed by the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH) Advisory Board. METHODS: The authors retrospectively analyzed 544 written publications submitted to the MOSH Advisory Board regarding the proposed workplace regulation of tobacco smoke. Outcome measures included the type and year of publication and, for journal articles, the journal's peer review policy and impact factor. RESULTS: Supporters of regulation submitted fewer documents (n = 164) than opponents (n = 380). Supporters of regulation submitted a lower proportion of conference proceedings and a higher proportion of government reports. The publications submitted to the regulators by the supporters of regulation were more recently published than the materials submitted by opponents. Journal articles represented more than half of the publications submitted; most were peer-reviewed. Supporters of regulation submitted articles from journals with higher impact factors (median impact factor 2.78) than did opponents of regulation (median 1.66; p = 0.0005), and articles that were published more recently (median year of publication 1990) than those submitted by opponents (median 1989; p = 0.0001). CONCLUSIONS: Public health advocates should highlight the scientific evidence base that supports tobacco control regulations. Public health advocates should encourage and support regulatory officials' use of the criteria of peer review, impact factor, and date of publication to prioritize their review of submitted documents in order to base policy on the best available evidence.

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