Smoking in a non-smoking environment : Inequality, stigmatization and resistance
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AbstractIn Norway, the prevalence of daily smoking has gradually declined from 50% among men and 30% among women in the early 1970s to 13% in both genders in 2015. The rate of occasional smoking has remained stable at approximately 10% in recent decades. Presumably, this decline in the historically prevalent and socially rooted practice of smoking signals the final stage of the tobacco epidemic, which is characterized by an increasing social gradient within the steadily decreasing segment of smokers. Norway was once a pioneer in tobacco control and introduced a comprehensive governmental program to reduce smoking, including a total ban on tobacco advertising starting in the mid-1970s. Since then, most of the policy instruments recommended by the World Health Organization to combat smoking have been implemented. In addition to a robust infrastructure for tobacco control, there has also been a focus on social denormalization strategies to make cigarettes less desirable and less accessible, and the act of smoking less acceptable. However, given the severe harm associated with smoking, the tobacco control community considers the decline in smoking to be too slow. In particular, there has been a concern for a possible asymptotic plateau in smoking rates. Whether smoking rates will tend to flatten in countries that have reached the last phase of the tobacco epidemic has also been an issue for researchers. One approach has been to investigate the number of “hardcore smokers” to test the much-discussed “hardening hypothesis”. Hardcore smokers are inveterate smokers who do not want to or are not able to quit smoking and therefore are considered a difficult segment to reach by traditional tobacco control measures. The hardening hypothesis postulates that the proportion of hardcore smokers will increase as smoking prevalence declines. The overall aim of this thesis is to increase our understanding of those who continue to smoke, as the normative and socio-material climate tends to facilitate non-smoking. I use various survey data sets to address four main topics in this thesis. The first paper investigates the size of the hardcore smoker group and whether the relative size of the group has changed over time in the population of smokers. We concluded that the size of the hardcore group of smokers remains relatively moderate in Norway, and we found little support for the hardening hypothesis. However, this conclusion depends upon how hardcore smokers are operationalized. Increased knowledge about the mechanisms underlying smokers’ willingness and/or ability to quit is needed. The second paper examines differences between smokers and snus users and their perceptions of their own tobacco use, self-evaluative emotions, perceived moral judgment and social disapproval of their tobacco use. Compared with snus users, we observed that smokers tend to hold more negative emotions about and experience more social disapproval of their tobacco behaviour. Social inequality in smoking behaviour is addressed in the third paper. More precisely, I set out to explore the associations between education, income and the risk of smoking. I conclude that low education is associated with a greater risk of dependence, heavy smoking and having no intention to quit. The last paper in this thesis explored public opinions for 16 novel tobacco control strategies. 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. The legitimacy of the newly proposed tobacco control measures is discussed within a justification framework. Overall, I conclude that many smokers experience a subjective feeling of stigmatization, they express resistance to increased tobacco control measures and there are some signs of social marginalization processes. In the thesis, these results are discussed in a social inequality and social resistance framework. In addition, smoking is discussed in relation to social stigma and neutralization of risk. The mechanisms underlying the inequality, stigmatization and resistance associated with smoking behaviour need further investigation.
List of papers
|Paper I Lund, M., Lund, K.E., Kvaavik, E. (2011). “Hard-core smokers in Norway 1996–2009”. Nicotine and Tobacco Research 13(11), 1132–1139. Published with an Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported license. The published version is available at: https://doi.org/10.1093/ntr/ntr166|
|Paper II Lund, M., Lund, K.E., Halkjelsvik, T. (2014). “Contrasting smokers’ and snus users’ perception of personal tobacco behavior in Norway”. Nicotine and Tobacco Research 16(12), 1577–1585. The paper is removed from the thesis in DUO due to publisher restrictions. The published version is available at: https://doi.org/10.1093/ntr/ntu109|
|Paper III Lund, M. (2015). “Social inequality in cigarette consumption, cigarette dependence, and intention to quit among Norwegian smokers”. Hindawi Publication, Special Issue on Tobacco Disparities, BioMed Research International, 2015, 1–7. Published with an Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. The published version is available at: https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/835080|
|Paper IV Lund, M. (2016). “Exploring smokers’ opposition to proposed tobacco control strategies”. Submitted version. Published as: Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 33(4), 321–334. Published with an Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. The published version is available at: https://doi.org/10.1515/nsad-2016-0027|