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Beliefs and behaviors related to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure in the home : cultural differences between francophones and the rest of the Canadian population



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This study explored how cultural heritage might affect people’s beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors toward Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS), which in turn affected actual ETS exposure. It used data from the 2001 National Survey on Environmental Tobacco Smoke in the Home. It compared two cultural groups: Francophones and the rest of the Canadian population (RCP), and found that Francophone nonsmokers had a significantly higher ETS exposure than the RCP (19.3% vs. 8.5%). The difference was much greater than the difference in smoking prevalence for the two groups (26.2% vs. 22.4%). The study found Francophones scored lower than the RCP in almost every aspect of ETS-related beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. They were less likely to believe ETS to be harmful and less supportive of ETS-control policies. They were less likely to have done something that reduced ETS exposure at home. In both cultural groups, smokers scored lower than nonsmokers in ETS-related beliefs and attitudes. However, the difference between the two groups remained significant even if the comparisons were done within smokers and nonsmokers. The most significant finding of the study was that Francophones were more likely to trust those so-called ETS-reduction strategies that appeared to be effective but were not in reality (e.g., opening the window when someone smokes). Moreover, there was a statistically significant interaction between smoking status and cultural heritage: fewer nonsmokers than smokers within each cultural group believed that these strategies were really effective, but the difference between the nonsmokers and smokers was significantly smaller for Francophones than that for the RCP. Therefore, the tendency to trust ineffective ETS-reduction strategies, especially among the nonsmokers, explained why Francophones were significantly less likely to adopt strategies that would actually reduce ETS exposure. These results suggest that in order to move ETS policies forward and to effectively reduce ETS exposure among Canadian nonsmokers, the key strategy is to mobilize the nonsmokers to be less tolerant of ETS and more persistent in only allowing smoking to occur outdoors. This will not only help protect nonsmokers from the harm of ETS, but will eventually help smokers to quit smoking.



Culture, Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS), Francophones, Behaviors, Beliefs



Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Community Health and Epidemiology


Community Health and Epidemiology


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