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To what extent and why adolescents do or do not support future tobacco control measures: a multimethod study in the Netherlands

Abstract

Background In the Netherlands, the adoption of new tobacco control measures is needed to further reduce rates of adolescent smoking. Adolescents’ support for future measures could increase the likelihood of adoption as this provides political leverage for tobacco control advocates. There is, however, scant evidence about to what extent and why adolescents support future measures. We therefore assessed adolescents’ support for a range of future measures and explored the criteria that adolescents use to underpin their support.

Methods A mixed-method design involved surveys and group interviews with fourth-year students (predominantly 15–16 years). The survey, completed by 345 adolescents, included statements about future tobacco control measures and a smoke-free future where nobody starts or continues smoking. Thereafter, 15 adolescents participated in five group interviews to discuss their support for future measures.

Results The survey showed that adolescents generally support a smoke-free future. They expressed most support for product measures, mixed support for smoke-free areas, ambivalent support for price increases and least support for sales restrictions. The group interviews revealed that differences in support were explained by adolescents’ criteria that future measures should: have the potential to be effective, not violate individuals’ right to smoke, protect children from pro-smoking social influences and protect non-smokers from secondhand smoke.

Conclusion Adolescents’ high support for a smoke-free future does not lead to categorical support for any measure. Addressing the underlying criteria may increase adolescents’ support and therewith provide political leverage for the adoption of future measures.

  • end-game
  • prevention
  • public opinion

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