Attitudes and Beliefs About Secondhand Smoke and Smoke-Free Policies in Four Countries: Findings from the International Tobacco Control Four Country Survey

Department of Health Behavior, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Elm and Carlton Streets, Buffalo, NY 14263, USA.
Nicotine & Tobacco Research (Impact Factor: 3.3). 06/2009; 11(6):642-9. DOI: 10.1093/ntr/ntp063
Source: PubMed


This paper describes the varying levels of smoking policies in nationally representative samples of smokers in four countries and examines how these policies are associated with changes in attitudes and beliefs about secondhand smoke over time.
We report data on 5,788 respondents to Wave 1 of the International Tobacco Control Four Country Survey who were employed at the time of the survey. A cohort of these respondents was followed up with two additional survey waves approximately 12 months apart. Respondents' attitudes and beliefs about secondhand smoke as well as self-reported policies in their workplace and in bars and restaurants in their community were assessed at all waves.
The level of comprehensive smoke-free policies in workplaces, restaurants, and bars increased over the study period for all countries combined and was highest in Canada (30%) and lowest in the United Kingdom (0%) in 2004. In both cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses, stronger secondhand smoke policies were associated with more favorable attitudes and support for comprehensive regulations. The associations were the strongest for smokers who reported comprehensive policies in restaurants, bars, and their workplace for all three survey waves.
Comprehensive smoke-free policies are increasing over time, and stronger policies and the public education opportunities surrounding their passage are associated with more favorable attitudes toward secondhand smoke regulations. The implication for policy makers is that, although the initial debate over smoke-free policies may be tumultuous, once people understand the rationale for implementing smoke-free policies and experience their benefits, public support increases even among smokers, and compliance with smoke-free regulations increases over time.

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    • "State and local smoke-free laws typically receive high levels of public support, with this support increasing over time as people become accustomed to the protections afforded by these laws [20]. Awareness of the adverse health effects of SHS exposure is an especially important factor shaping public attitudes towards smoke-free policies [21]. Research indicates that increased knowledge about the harmfulness of SHS is associated with greater efforts to minimize exposure [22, 23], reduced SHS exposure among both smokers and nonsmokers222324, and adoption of smoke-free home rules [25, 26]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) causes significant disease and death. We assessed the prevalence and correlates of perceptions about the health harm of SHS among U.S. adults at the national and state level. Methods: Data came from the 2009-2010 National Adult Tobacco Survey, a national landline and cellular telephone survey. Perceptions about the health harms of SHS were assessed as follows: 'not at all harmful', 'somewhat harmful', and 'very harmful'. Descriptive statistics were used to assess the prevalence of SHS harm perceptions by tobacco use and sociodemographic factors, including sex, age, race/ethnicity, education, marital status, annual household income, region, sexual orientation, children in the household, and smoke-free law coverage. Logistic regression was used to assess odds of perceiving SHS to be "very harmful" (vs. "not at all harmful" or "somewhat harmful"), adjusting for the aforementioned factors. Results: Nationally, 64.5 % of adults perceived SHS as 'very harmful' (state range: 73.5 % [Utah] to 53.7 % [Kentucky]). By tobacco use, the perception that SHS is 'very harmful' was: 76.5 % among nonusers of tobacco; 62.1 % among noncombustible only users; 47.9 % among combustible only users; and 40.8 % among dual combustible and noncombustible users. Following adjustment, the perception that SHS was 'very harmful' was higher among females, non-Hispanic minorities and Hispanics, respondents living with children, and states with 100 % smoke-free law coverage. Among current tobacco users the odds of perceiving SHS to be 'very harmful' was lower in the Midwest than the West. Conclusions: Almost two-thirds of American adults perceive SHS as 'very harmful'; however, currently only half of all Americans are protected by comprehensive state or local smoke-free laws. These findings underscore the importance of public education campaigns to increase awareness of SHS exposure harm and the benefits of smoke-free environments. Expanding comprehensive smoke-free laws could protect all Americans from SHS.
    Preview · Article · Dec 2016 · Tobacco Induced Diseases
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    • "The importance of public opinion on policy was stressed by the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, which wrote that, “In democratic nations, supportive public attitudes are often necessary for facilitating the process of passing smokefree legislation or regulations by local or national governments” [6] (p. 93). Recently, however, some other researchers have concluded that the reverse direction is correct, and that policy affects public opinion: on the basis of data collected before and after policy changes regarding smoke-free laws, they concluded that: “although the initial debate over smoke-free policies may be tumultuous, once people understand the rationale for implementing smoke-free policies and experience their benefits, public support increases even among smokers [18] (p. 642).” "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Health policy-making, a complex, multi-factorial process, requires balancing conflicting values. A salient issue is public support for policies; however, one reason for limited impact of public opinion may be misperceptions of policy makers regarding public opinion. For example, empirical research is scarce on perceptions of policy makers regarding public opinion on smoke-free public spaces. Methods Public desire for smoke-free air was compared with health policy advisor (HPA) perception of these desires. Two representative studies were conducted: one with the public (N = 505), and the other with a representative sample of members of Israel’s health-targeting initiative, Healthy Israel 2020 (N = 34), in December 2010. Corresponding questions regarding desire for smoke-free areas were asked. Possible smoke-free areas included: 100% smoke-free bars and pubs; entrances to health facilities; railway platforms; cars with children; college campuses; outdoor areas (e.g., pools and beaches); and common areas of multi-dweller apartment buildings. A 1–7 Likert scale was used for each measure, and responses were averaged into a single primary outcome, DESIRE. Our primary endpoint was the comparison between public preferences and HPA assessment of those preferences. In a secondary analysis, we compared personal preferences of the public with personal preferences of the HPAs for smoke-free air. Results HPAs underestimated public desire for smoke-free air (Public: Mean: 5.06, 95% CI:[4.94, 5.17]; HPA: Mean: 4.06, 95% CI:[3.61, 4.52]: p < .0001). Differences at the p = .05 level were found between HPA assessment and public preference for the following areas: 100% smoke-free bars and pubs; entrances to healthcare facilities; train platforms; cars carrying children; and common areas of multi-dweller apartment buildings. In our secondary comparison, HPAs more strongly preferred smoke-free areas than did the public (p < .0001). Conclusions Health policy advisors underestimate public desire for smoke-free air. Better grasp of public opinion by policy makers may lead to stronger legislation. Monitoring policy-maker assessment of public opinion may shed light on incongruities between policy making and public opinion. Further, awareness of policy-maker misperceptions may encourage policy-makers to demand more accurate information before making policy.
    Full-text · Article · May 2013 · Israel Journal of Health Policy Research
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    • "Self-enforcement dramatically improved after the ban came into force, and was more frequently reported than compliance, even among smokers. All these findings are consistent with other studies and point out the importance of public health media campaigns, to promote public awareness and acceptance, educating about SHS health hazards and empowering citizens to enforce the law [3-5,9,12,27,33,34]. Health hazards concerning SHS exposure in vehicles should be emphasised. "
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    ABSTRACT: Research evaluating enforcement and compliance with smoking partial bans is rather scarce, especially in countries with relative weak tobacco control policies, such as Portugal. There is also scarce evidence on specific high risk groups such as vehicle workers. In January 2008, Portugal implemented a partial ban, followed by poor enforcement. The purpose of this study was to explore the effectiveness of a partial smoking ban in a pro-smoking environment, specifically transportation by taxi in the city of Lisbon. Ban effectiveness was generally defined by ban awareness and support, compliance and enforcement. Exploratory cross-sectional study; purposive sampling in selected Lisbon streets. Structured interviews were conducted by trained researchers while using taxi services (January 2009-December 2010). Participants: 250 taxi drivers (98.8% participation rate). Chi-square, McNemar, Man Whitney tests and multiple logistic regression were performed. Of the participants, 249 were male; median age was 53.0 years; 43.6% were current smokers. Most participants (82.8%) approved comprehensive bans; 84.8% reported that clients still asked to smoke in their taxis; 16.8% allowed clients to smoke. Prior to the ban this value was 76.9% (p < 0.001). The major reason for not allowing smoking was the legal ban and associated fines (71.2%). Of the smokers, 66.1% admitted smoking in their taxi. Stale smoke smells were detected in 37.6% of the cars. None of the taxi drivers did ever receive a fine for non-compliance. Heavy smoking, night-shift and allowing smoking prior the ban predicted non-compliance. Despite the strong ban support observed, high smoking prevalence and poor enforcement contribute to low compliance. The findings also suggest low compliance among night-shift and vehicle workers. This study clearly demonstrates that a partial and poorly-enforced ban is vulnerable to breaches, and highlights the need for clear and strong policies.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2013 · BMC Public Health
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