A qualitative analysis of Māori and Pacific smokers' views on informed choice and smoking
Objectives Tobacco companies frame smoking as an informed choice, a strategy that holds individuals responsible for harms they incur. Few studies have tested this argument, and even fewer have examined how informed indigenous smokers or those from minority ethnicities are when they start smoking. We explored how young adult Māori and Pacific smokers interpreted ‘informed choice’ in relation to smoking.
Participants Using recruitment via advertising, existing networks and word of mouth, we recruited and undertook qualitative in-depth interviews with 20 Māori and Pacific young adults aged 18–26 years who smoked.
Analyses Data were analysed using an informed-choice framework developed by Chapman and Liberman. We used a thematic analysis approach to identify themes that extended this framework.
Results Few participants considered themselves well informed and none met more than the framework's initial two criteria. Most reflected on their unthinking uptake and subsequent addiction, and identified environmental factors that had facilitated uptake. Nonetheless, despite this context, most agreed that they had made an informed choice to smoke.
Conclusions The discrepancy between participants' reported knowledge and understanding of smoking's risks, and their assessment of smoking as an informed choice, reflects their view of smoking as a symbol of adulthood. Policies that make tobacco more difficult to use in social settings could help change social norms around smoking and the ease with which initiation and addiction currently occur.