Injunctive social norms about the habit encourage smokers to quit
Female smokers who agree with non-smoking norms are more likely to quit or attempt to quit the habit, a recent study has shown.
Accessing a representative cross-sectional analysis, researchers assessed the perception of 1,521 adults (aged ≥16 years; 49.6 percent female) toward three types non-smoking norms. Descriptive norms were those conveyed through the behaviour of others, injunctive norms were conveyed through the perceived acceptability of the behaviours by others, and personal norms were based on the participant’s own beliefs and attitudes.
Of the participants, 275 were current smokers and 301 were past-year smokers. Most, however, were non-smokers (n=1,216). In terms of descriptive norms, most of the participants (39.8 percent) reported that none of their five closest friends were smokers.
While this was more pronounced in non-smokers, only 15.9 percent believed smoking to be uncommon or very uncommon, suggesting that descriptive non-smoking norms were less persistent in the study sample.
Injunctive norms, in contrast, were better held by the participants. Majority reported that they perceived smoking to be a habit that their partner (74.1 percent), family (76.6 percent), and close friends (60.2 percent) did or would disapprove of. Moreover, 68.4 percent of participants believed that people in general disapproved of smoking.
For past-year smokers who endorsed these injunctive non-smoking norms, the likelihood of having made a quit attempt in the last 12 months was significantly higher. This effect was much stronger in women than in men. However, no link between injunctive norms and actual cessation were detected.