Academic journal article Central European Journal of Public Health

What Can Public Endorsement for a Smoking Ban Policy Mean? Preliminary Findings from a Qualitative Study

Academic journal article Central European Journal of Public Health

What Can Public Endorsement for a Smoking Ban Policy Mean? Preliminary Findings from a Qualitative Study

Article excerpt

SUMMARY

Objectives: The aim of the study is to describe attitudes which underlie Pole's declarations of support for a smoking ban in public places.

Methods: The qualitative study using semi-structured individual in-depth interviews was conducted. The 30 IDI-s (in depth interviews) being a part of a larger research project entitled 'Lay meanings of health and life orientation of Polish society versus prevention and health promotion attitudes' were realized between 2007-2009. People belonging to all key socio-demographic categories identified by variables such as sex, age, education, and place of domicile were interviewed. The resulting material was subjected to content analysis. In the study the structural concept of 'attitude' was adopted. In order to identify the attitudes towards smoking bans in public places statements related to all three components of attitudes were analysed, but the typology of attitudes was constructed mainly on the basis of the emotional-evaluative component.

Results: The study identified as many as four attitudes behind the declared support for a smoking ban in public places. Those attitudes were labelled 'supportive', 'accepting', 'conditionally accepting', and 'ambivalent'. They differ as regards degree of acceptance for the ban, conviction about harmfulness of passive smoking, setting great store by other regulators of smoking like cultural norms or healthy consciousness, and propensity to observe and execute the smoking ban. The 'supportive' attitude can be characterized not only by total support for the smoking ban in public places but also by insistence on the need for its extension. The 'accepting' attitude means approval for the smoking ban, and the 'conditionally accepting' attitude is distinguished from the others by the stress put on the right of smokers to have an access to places where smoking is permitted. The 'ambivalent' attitude can be typified by underlining other than legal ways of influencing smoking in public places.

Conclusions: The study suggests that the attitudes underlying the Pole's declarations of support for a smoking ban in public places can be differentiated. However, because of the low number of participants in the study the results should be verified thus the further research is needed.

Therefore, there is a need not only to study people's declaration of support or objection for the smoking ban in public places but also to examine their attitudes including cognitive and behavioural components using both qualitative and quantitative methods of social research.

Key words: smoking ban in public places, attitudes, public health, passive smoking, Poland

INTRODUCTION

The results of epidemiological research have proved that passive smoking as well as active smoking is an important risk factor for numerous diseases, including cardiovascular diseases and cancer (1-3). Consequently, many countries have taken measures in order to protect their citizens against negative effects of passive smoking. Among those activities are legal regulations that ban smoking in public places. Smoking bans have also been introduced in Poland (4-7). The results of research conducted in countries which have introduced a smoking ban in public places suggest strong public endorsement for the smoking restrictions (3, 8-11). Surveys carried out to date in Poland have also shown a fairly strong support for a smoking ban: general support for the smoking ban in public places was declared by almost 80% of the respondents. Although non-smokers are most supportive of the idea (88%), support is also expressed by a considerable number of daily smokers (60%) (11).

On this basis legislators may anticipate that a strict smoking ban in public places will be generally obeyed (8). However, surveys do not usually provide insights into the differentiation of attitudes among those who express such support. On the other hand, a study based on qualitative methodology could help to bring such insights by showing nuances and subtleties of attitudes held by those who support the idea to regulate the issue by the law. …

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