Melanie Wakefield, PhD, Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, The Cancer Council Victoria, 1 Rathdowne Street, Carlton, Australia
Although tobacco is used throughout the world, social and cultural factors influence the specific ways it is used and patterns of its use within a society. For example, tobacco is held inside the mouth in Sweden (snus), smoked in small flavored cigarettes called bidis in India, shared with others in Turkey through a waterpipe called a narghile, and blended with cloves in Indonesia, called kreteks. Tobacco use varies substantially across nations, but also within nations, by ethnic groups, gender, age and other demographically defined subgroups. Furthermore, some nations are experiencing increasing rates of tobacco use; others are evidencing a plateau or decline in use. This presentation will summarise what we know about social influences on tobacco use through parental, peer and broader social normative factors and how these vary within different cultural subpopulations. Cultural factors also dictate the climate for tobacco control policies, in terms of receptivity to policy adoption and the extent to which policies are enforced or complied with, thus in turn influencing tobacco use. But more generally, popular culture should also be considered in shaping both the identity needs of youth in particular, and the influence of a tobacco industry that exploits these needs to sell tobacco and develop market niches. This presentation also examines how the tobacco industry is adept at marketing its products to make smoking socially and culturally acceptable for different subpopulations. Use of product design variations, and different messages, channels and promotions are specifically crafted to appeal to particular social and cultural groups.