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What the public thinks about the tobacco industry and its products
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  1. M J Ashley,
  2. J E Cohen
  1. Ontario Tobacco Research Unit, University of Toronto, and Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Mary Jane Ashley
 Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1A8, Canada; maryjane.ashleyutoronto.ca

Abstract

Objectives: To assess public attitudes toward the tobacco industry and its products, and to identify predictors of attitudes supportive of tobacco industry denormalisation.

Design: Population based, cross sectional survey.

Setting: Ontario, Canada.

Subjects: Adult population (n = 1607).

Main outcome measures: Eight different facets of tobacco industry denormalisation were assessed. A denormalisation scale was developed to examine predictors of attitudes supportive of tobacco industry denormalisation, using bivariate and multivariate analyses.

Results: Attitudes to the eight facets of tobacco industry denormalisation varied widely. More than half of the respondents supported regulating tobacco as a hazardous product, fining the tobacco industry for earnings from underage smoking, and suing tobacco companies for health care costs caused by tobacco. Majorities also thought that the tobacco industry is dishonest and that cigarettes are too dangerous to be sold at all. Fewer than half of the respondents thought that the tobacco industry is mostly or completely responsible for the health problems smokers have because of smoking and that tobacco companies should be sued for taxes lost from smuggling. In particular, less than a quarter thought that the tobacco industry is most responsible for young people starting to smoke. Non-smoking, knowledge about health effects caused by tobacco, and support for the role of government in health promotion were independent predictors of support for tobacco industry denormalisation.

Conclusions: Although Ontarians are ambivalent toward tobacco industry denormalisation, they are supportive of some measures. Mass media programmes aimed at increasing support for tobacco industry denormalisation and continued monitoring of public attitudes toward this strategy are needed.

  • attitudes
  • public
  • tobacco industry
  • tobacco products
  • denormalisation strategies
  • CATI, computer assisted telephone interviewing
  • CTUMS, Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey
  • TID, tobacco industry denormalisation
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