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Smoking, self-regulation and moral positioning: A focus group study with British smokers from a disadvantaged community

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Smoking in many Western societies has become a both moral aand health issue in recent years, but little is known about how smokers position themselves and regulate their behaviour in this context. In this article, we report the findings from a study investigating how smokers from an economically disadvantaged community in the East Midlands (UK) respond to concerns about the health impact of smoking on others. We conducted ten focus group (FG) discussions with mixed groups (by smoking status and gender; N = 58 participants) covering a range of topics, including smoking norms, self-regulation, and smoking in diverse contexts. We transcribed all FG discussions before analysing the data using techniques from discourse anlysis. Smokers in general positioned themselves as socially responsible smokers and morally upstanding citizens. This position was bolstered in two main ways: ‘everyday accommodation’, whereby everyday efforts to accommodate the needs of non-smokers were referenced, and ‘taking a stand’, whereby proactive interventions to prevent smoking in (young) others were cited. We suggest that smoking cessation campaigns could usefully be informed by this ethic of care for others.
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Keywords: ethics/moral perspectives; focus groups; psychosocial issues; smoking cessation; vulnerable populations

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Social, Psychological & Communication Sciences, Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds, UK. 2: UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK. 3: Public Health, Epidemiology & Biostatistics School of Health & Population Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK. 4: Institute for Social Marketing, UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies, University of Stirling, Stirling, UK. 5: UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies, National Addiction Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, London, UK.

Publication date: October 1, 2013

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