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Health Res Policy Syst. 2007 Oct 22;5:12.

Participation and argument in legislative debate on statewide smoking restrictions.

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Department of Clinical Pharmacy, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California, US.



In this paper we review the relationship between participation in legislative hearings, the use of ideological arguments, and the strength of public health legislation using a theoretical construct proposed by E. E. Schattschneider in 1960. Schattschneider argued that the breadth and types of participation in a political discussion could change political outcomes.


We test Schattschneider's argument empirically by reviewing the efforts of six states to pass Clean Indoor Air Acts by coding testimony given before legislators, comparing these findings to the different characteristics of each state's political process and the ultimate strength of each state's legislation.


We find that although greater participation is associated with stronger legislation, there is no clear relationship between the use and type of ideological arguments and eventual outcomes.


These findings offer validation of a long-standing theory about the importance of political participation, and suggest strategies for public health advocates seeking to establish new legislation.

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