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Policymakers and the example of smoking to children: A qualitative study

Sheena Hudson and George Thomson*

Author Affiliations

University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand

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Tobacco Induced Diseases 2011, 9:1  doi:10.1186/1617-9625-9-1

Published: 22 January 2011



The normality of smoking that children are exposed to is associated with increased risk of smoking uptake. To better understand policymaking that could address this issue, our aim was to identify and document the views of New Zealand policymakers regarding the example of smoking behaviour to children, and the policy responses they preferred.


We analysed public documents for relevant statements, and conducted semi-structured anonymous interviews with 62 purposively selected policymakers. We identified views of New Zealand policymakers regarding: the example to children of adult smoking behaviour, and the policy responses they preferred.


In both public statements and anonymous interviews, policymakers demonstrated that they perceived a clear relationship between the example of smoking and children taking up smoking. However, they showed a general unwillingness to support further smokefree legislation in areas frequented by children. Rather, they preferred to educate adults about their impact as models for youth behaviour.


Health advocates in New Zealand and elsewhere may require more evidence of the effect of relevant legislation and of public support, and wider alliances, to significantly move policies specifically to reduce the example of smoking.