What is Social Acceptance for Smoking? Find Out From the Health Clinic
What is a women’s health clinic? This article aims to explore (1) frequency rates of daily MJ use among a group of women, (2) perception of social acceptability of daily MJ use in a sample of non-pregnant adult women, (3) associations of perceived social acceptability with current smoking behavior, and, lastly, correlates of social acceptability with current tobacco use behavior. Methods: Participants were 210 nonpregnant adult women from two clinics in Virginia who were recruited as part of a larger longitudinal study. The aim was to examine the association of perceived social acceptability for regular MJ use with current smoking behavior and future smoking behavior.
Most of the participants were recruited during follow-up visits for the third trimester of pregnancy when tobacco use was at its highest point and the results of the study were most likely to be reflective of the general population. Of note, a significant proportion of the sample smoked on a regular basis before they became pregnant, and a lower proportion of those who did not smoke began using tobacco in the third trimester of pregnancy than did those who did begin.
The sample was comprised of women
The sample was comprised of women (n = 97) who smoked at least one cigarette on a daily basis, continued to smoke on a regular basis after pregnancy, had never used nicotine replacement therapy or other tobacco products, and had no history of tobacco use or alcohol abuse. Of the participants, a significant number reported a prior history of substance abuse and/or dependence. For example, participants who had an earlier first-degree relative who used tobacco were less likely to report quitting on their own by the end of the third trimester. There was a trend for younger women to be more likely to quit smoking than older women.
Issue analysis revealed that smoking was the most common reason cited for non-use of a tobacco product by women in the sample (71%). This issue is not surprising, given that most women who smoke regularly have no idea that they are doing so. Some women in this sample were unaware that they were pregnant, yet they continued to smoke. In addition, a significant number of the women who were unaware that they were pregnant smoked regularly because they had been exposed to secondhand smoke.
Issues related to social acceptability for use of tobacco were examined as participants completed questionnaires related to their perceptions and experiences of social acceptance for a range of tobacco use practices. The issue of perceived social acceptance was measured with the following items: “I am satisfied that I would not be rejected or judged in a group if I used tobacco,” “I can accept and love smoking,” “I feel that my spouse supports my tobacco use,” “I don’t mind having my spouse around while I smoke,” “I enjoy being around smokers,” “I see myself as someone who is open and confident about my smoking,” “I am okay being around smokers,” “my friends and family know about my smoking,” “I can be comfortable with others knowing that I smoke,” “I feel good about myself when I am smoking,” “I’m satisfied that I am an acceptable smoker,” “I feel comfortable smoking around smokers,” “I feel good about smoking around smokers,” “I know that I feel relaxed and healthy whenever I smoke.”
Responses to these items indicated the percentage of the sample who endorsed each, along with their percentages of those who were satisfied with their level of social acceptance. These percentages can be used as indicators of social acceptance for various types of tobacco use.
The findings of the issue analysis and findings for social acceptance are significant but do not prove or disprove social acceptance for regular use of tobacco among women. The sample size is small and the data is from women who were not interested in using tobacco products as their method of smoking cessation treatment, so conclusions cannot be drawn definitively. Still, these data do show that social acceptance is something that is associated with smoking cessation and use among women.
Women’s health clinic can be an important place to provide smoking cessation services for women who may need them. It can also be a valuable place to educate women about smoking cessation and use. The issue of social acceptance for smoking cessation should be examined by health care professionals as they develop programs that can benefit women who are seeking help for tobacco use issues.