Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 90, Issue 5, pp 330–333 | Cite as

Interactions Between Smokers and Non-Smokers in Public Places: A Qualitative Study

  • Blake D. PolandEmail author
  • Lisa Stockton
  • Mary Jane Ashley
  • Linda Pederson
  • Joanna Cohen
  • Roberta Ferrence
  • Shelley Bull


Few studies have employed a qualitative approach to better understand how both smokers and non-smokers experience and make sense of no-smoking restrictions in their daily lives. We describe qualitative research involving an examination of self-reported interpersonal interactions between smokers and non-smokers in public places regarding exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). Five focus group discussions and twenty individual in-depth interviews were conducted with smokers and non-smokers in the Metropolitan Toronto region as a complement to a quantitative survey of the adult population of Ontario. Strategies used by non-smokers in responding to ETS exposures included verbal confrontations, non-verbal cues, use of a third party, and moving away. The perceived consequences of such actions, as described by both smokers and non-smokers, are discussed, together with implications for tobacco control policy and practice.


Peu d’études ont utilisé l’approche qualitative pour mieux comprendre comment les fumeurs et les non fumeurs font l’expérience — dans la vie quotidienne — des restrictions face à l’usage du tabac. Nous décrivons des recherches qualitatives qui impliquent un examen des relations interpersonnelles entre fumeurs et non fumeurs dans les endroits publiques; principalement en ce qui concerne l’exposition à la fumée de tabac dans l’environnement. Cinq groupes de discussion et vingt interviews d’individus en profondeur, ont été réalisés avec des fumeurs et non fumeurs dans la région métropolitaine de Toronto, comme complément à une enquête auprès de la population adulte ontarienne. Les stratégies employées par les non fumeurs pour répondre à l’exposition à la fumée ont inclus la confrontation verbale, des signes non verbaux, l’emploi d’une tierce personne et le retrait. Les conséquences perçues de ces actions, décrites par les fumeurs et non fumeurs, sont discutées; ainsi que l’implication pour les pratiques et politiques de lutte contre le tabac.


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Blake D. Poland
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Lisa Stockton
    • 3
  • Mary Jane Ashley
    • 1
    • 2
  • Linda Pederson
    • 4
  • Joanna Cohen
    • 2
  • Roberta Ferrence
    • 2
    • 5
  • Shelley Bull
    • 2
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Public Health Sciences, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Ontario Tobacco Research Unit, Centre for Health PromotionUniversity of TorontoCanada
  3. 3.Smaller World CommunicationsTorontoCanada
  4. 4.Department of Community Health and Preventive MedicineMoorehouse School of MedicineAtlantaCanada
  5. 5.Addiction Research Foundation DivisionCentre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada
  6. 6.Samuel Lunenfeld Research InstituteMount Sinai HospitalTorontoCanada

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