Public health or social impacts? A qualitative analysis of attitudes toward the smoke-free legislation in Scotland

Derek Heim, Alastair Ross, Douglas Eadie, Susan MacAskill, John B. Davies, Gerard Hastings, Sally Haw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction of smoke-free legislation presents a unique opportunity to study how population-level interventions can challenge existing smoking norms. Our study examined support and opposition to the Scottish legislation and ascertained the relative importance of social and health factors in shaping attitudes among bar customers.

Repeat (pre-/post-legislation) recorded and transcribed semistructured interviews with customers (n = 67/62) of eight community bars in contrasting settings were conducted, and data were analyzed thematically.

While the legislation was marketed primarily in terms of gains to public and individual health, supportive and opposing responses to the legislation tended to be framed around libertarian and practical factors. Attitudes tended to be stable across both waves of data collection.

It is concluded that reasons for smoking were not challenged by promotion of the legislation. In addition to a focus on health gains, social marketing of smoke-free legislation and initiatives may therefore benefit from a stronger focus on social and contextual effects of such policies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1424-1430
JournalNicotine and Tobacco Research
Issue number12
Early online date29 Oct 2009
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009


  • smoking
  • Scotland
  • attitude
  • statutes and laws
  • public health medicine

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