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The 13th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health

Building capacity for a tobacco-free world

July 12-15, 2006, Washington, DC, USA

Thursday, July 13, 2006 - 12:00 PM

Unpacking the Social Context of Tobacco Control

Rebecca J. Haines, PhD(ABD)1, Blake Poland, PhD1, Robert Sparks, PhD2, and Catherine Maule, MHSc(Cand.)1. (1) Department of Public Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, 155 College Street, 6th Floor, Health Sciences Building, Toronto, ON M5T 3M7, Canada, (2) School of Human Kinetics, University of British Columbia, 210 - 6081 University Blvd, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1, Canada

Objective: Social context is widely cited as key to understanding why, how, where and with whom people smoke, as well as the socio-economic distribution of smoking. Recent engagements with social science disciplines suggests that tobacco control could benefit from an expanded repertoire of concepts and theories that can inform new research and intervention methods for addressing the social context of smoking.

Methods: In Canada, a national, interdisciplinary team of researchers are involved in a series of studies designed to define and empirically test a theoretical framework for studying the social context of tobacco use. In addition to providing a detailed theoretical analysis of smoking as a collective social practice (Poland), the presentations in this session profile recent team research, including studies that: 1) examine how tobacco control practitioners define and utilize the concept of ‘social context' (Maule); 2) employ visual methodologies to enable young female smokers to represent the social context of their smoking (Haines); and 3) explore how youth smoking is affected by the social context of schools and the communities in which they reside, and how youth negotiate the conflicting meanings of smoking in their life-worlds(Sparks).

Results: The presentations in this session demonstrate that a fuller understanding of the social context of smoking has the potential to overcome the limitations associated with strategies emphasizing individual behaviour, highlighting opportunities for more holistic interventions better aligned with the realities of smoking as a practice embedded within social contexts.

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