Tobacco (22) Do people understand the harms of using tobacco products? (6) Public health education

28 February, 2023

Q1. "Do people understand the health, socio-economic and environmental harms of using tobacco products? What matters to them? How can they be better informed?"

It has been shown that socioeconomic status is linked to smoking. Specifically, poorer populations are correlated with smoking early in life, quantity of smoking and less successful quitting attempts as compared to wealthier groups. Interestingly, knowledge about the harmful effects of primary and secondary smoking constitutes the first step to behavior modification, but it is not enough for quitting. For example, if smokers are aware of the negative influence of their smoking on others, they may be more likely to quit (Tobacco Health Risk Awareness among Socially Disadvantaged People — A Crucial Tool for Smoking Cessation, 2018). In other words, the first step to solving a problem is recognizing one exists. People who smoke but are aware of its health risks exhibit cognitive dissonance, a mindset in which attitudes and behaviors about a topic are not in sync. Tobacco use is a learned and socially mediated behavior. Experimenting with tobacco is therefore appealing to children because of connections they learn to make between tobacco use and the kind of social identity they wish to establish. Peer pressure constitutes a significant influence on the usage of tobacco as well (Lynch and Richard, 1994).

Some ways in which the public can be better informed about the dangers of smoking are listed below.

1. Public education programs and messages should be increased and implemented on a continuous basis to (a) inform the public about the hazards of tobacco use and of environmental tobacco smoke and (b) promote a tobacco-free environment.

2. Research should be conducted to determine the factors influencing the substantial decline in tobacco use by African-American youths, with particular attention to the role of social norms.

3. Youths should be involved in the development of research questions and approaches and in designing and evaluating health messages and programs for the purpose of alerting people to the dangers of tobacco use..


HIFA profile: William Cotrone is a Student/CPR Instructor with One Love CPR, USA. Email: willcot98 AT