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Social norms towards smoking and electronic cigarettes among adult smokers in seven European Countries: Findings from the EUREST-PLUS ITC Europe Surveys

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Katherine East, Sara Christine Brenda Hitchman, Mairtin Seosamh McDermott, Ann Denise McNeill, Aleksandra Herbec, Yannis Tountas, Nicolas Bécuwe, Tibor Demjén, Marcela Fu, Esteve Fernández, Ute Mons, Antigona Trofor, Witold A Zatonski, Geoffrey T Fong, Constantine Vardavas

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA15
JournalTobacco Induced Diseases
Accepted/In press14 Feb 2019
Published22 Mar 2019


King's Authors


Introduction: This study explores whether current smokers’ social norms towards smoking and electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) vary across seven European countries alongside smoking and e-cigarette prevalence rates. At the time of surveying, England had the lowest current smoking prevalence; Greece the highest. Hungary, Romania and Spain had the lowest prevalence of any e-cigarette use; England the highest.

Methods: Respondents were adult (18+) current smokers from the 2016 EUREST-PLUS ITC (Romania, Spain, Hungary, Poland, Greece, Germany) and ITC 4CV England Surveys (N=7,779). Using logistic regression, associations between country and (a) smoking norms and (b) e-cigarette norms were assessed, adjusting for age, sex, income, education, smoking status, heaviness of smoking, and e-cigarette status.

Results: Compared with England, smoking norms were higher in all countries: reporting at least three of five closest friends smoke (19% vs. 65%-84% [AOR=6.9-24.0; Hungary-Greece]), perceiving people important to you approve of smoking (8% vs. 14%-57% [1.9-51.1; Spain-Hungary]), perceiving the public approves of smoking (5% vs. 6%-37% [1.7-15.8; Spain-Hungary]), disagreeing that smokers are marginalised (9% vs. 16%-50% [2.3-12.3; Poland-Greece]) except Hungary. Compared with England: reporting at least one of five closest friends use e-cigarettes was higher in Poland (28% vs. 36% [2.7]) but lower in Spain and Romania (28% vs. 6%-14% [0.3-0.6]), perceiving the public approves of e-cigarettes was higher in Poland, Hungary and Greece (32% vs. 36%-40% [1.5-1.6]) but lower in Spain and Romania in unadjusted analyses only (32% vs. 24-26%), reporting seeing e-cigarette use in public at least some days was lower in all countries (81% vs. 12%-55% [0.1-0.4]; Spain-Greece).

Conclusions: Smokers from England had the least pro-smoking norms. Smokers from Spain had the least pro-e-cigarette norms. Friend smoking and disagreeing that smokers are marginalised broadly aligned with country-level current smoking rates. Seeing e-cigarette use in public broadly aligned with country-level any e-cigarette use. Generally, no other norms aligned with product prevalence.

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