Exploring Smokers’ Opposition to Proposed Tobacco Control Strategies

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BACKGROUND – Tobacco control (TC) advocates are searching for new TC strategies to decrease smoking rates further.

AIMS – The aim of this study is to explore smokers’ opposition to 16 TC strategies, including the attitudes in the sample as a whole. The results are discussed in relation to the importance of public versus smoker support, and the need for legitimate TC strategies.

METHODS – An Internet panel with 35,000 registered users was accessed to invite participants to join a survey on attitudes towards TC strategies. In addition, 1253 participants were recruited directly from mobile phone lists. Of the 5543 participants recruited, 5250 adults aged 20 years or older were eligible for analysis. Respondents’ attitudes were measured on a five-point Likert scale, and mean values, standard deviations and percentages of those who opposed TC regulations were reported.

RESULTS – In the total sample, there was some support for regulating smoking in specific outdoors areas. Smokers opposed all of the proposed strategies except banning smoking in cars carrying children, increasing the age limit for purchasing cigarettes and banning smoking at transportation stops. Smokers seemed to accept regulations that protected others from the health risks of smoking, but defended their right to smoke in some specific outdoor areas.

CONCLUSIONS – Smokers opposed most of the proposed TC strategies. Smokers’ support may be more important in TC areas that aim to denormalise smoking and where enforcement is more complex.

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