Objective-To determine if smokers and non-smokers cluster into meaningful,
discrete subgroups with distinguishable attitudes and behaviours regarding
smoking and smoking restrictions.
Design-Qualitative research with 45 smokers guided development of questionn
aire items applied in a population based telephone survey of 432 current sm
okers and 1332 non-smokers in Ontario, Canada.
Methods-Cluster analysis of questionnaire items used to categorise adult sm
okers and non-smokers; comparison of clusters on sociodemographic character
istics and composite knowledge and attitude scores.
Results-Smokers clustered in three groups. "Reluctant" smokers (16%) show m
ore concern about other people discovering that they smoke, but parallel "e
asygoing" smokers (42%) in supporting restrictions on smoking and not smoki
ng around others. "Adamant" smokers (42%) feel restrictions have gone too f
ar, and are less likely to accommodate non-smokers. Significant gradients a
cross categories in the expected direction were observed with respect to sm
oking status, stage of change, knowledge, and attitude scores, and predicte
d compliance with restrictions, validating the proposed typology. Non-smoke
rs also clustered into three groups, of which the "adamant" non-smokers (45
%) are the least favourably disposed to smoking. "Unempowered" non-smokers
(34%) also oppose smoking, but tend not to act on it. "Laissez-faire" non-s
mokers (21%) are less opposed to smoking in both attitude and behaviour. A
significant gradient across categories in the expected direction was observ
ed with respect to composite scores regarding knowledge of the health effec
ts of active and passive smoking and a composite score on support for restr
ictions on smoking in public places.
Conclusion-Recognition and consideration of the types of smokers and non-sm
okers in the population and their distinguishing characteristics could info
rm the development of tobacco control policies and programmes and suggest s
trategies to assist implementation.