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Beliefs about Tobacco Industry (mal)Practices and Youth Smoking Behaviour: Insight for Future Tobacco Control Campaigns (Canada)

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To examine how student beliefs about tobacco industry behaviour and marketing practices were related to occasional and regular smoking among 9th to 12th graders. These findings can provide insight for developing new tobacco industry denormalization messages for youth smoking populations.


Cross-sectional data were collected from 14,767 grade 9 to 12 students attending 22 secondary schools within one Public Health Region of Canada using the Tobacco Module of School Heath Action, Planning and Evaluation System (SHAPES). Logistic regression analyses were used to determine if different beliefs about tobacco companies were able to differentiate never smokers from occasional smokers, and occasional smokers from regular smokers.


Occasional and regular smoking behaviour was significantly related to student beliefs about tobacco companies doing good things in the community, manipulating young people to think smoking is cool, advertising to youth, and using athletes and sports sponsorships to get young people to smoke.


This study identified that beliefs about tobacco industry behaviour and marketing practices were related to youth smoking behaviour. In order to address the unique needs of smoking youth, discussions for future tobacco industry denormalization campaigns should consider messages tailored to focus on corporate social responsibility, sport and cultural event sponsorship and industry manipulation.

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The authors would like to thank the Canadian Cancer Society/National Cancer Institute of Canada’s Centre for Behavioural Research and Program Evaluation (CBRPE) for providing financial support for this project. The authors would also like to thank Public Health and the schools and students who participated, and Dr. David Hammond at the University of Waterloo for his developmental work with the denormalization items used in the SHAPES Tobacco Module.

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Correspondence to Scott T. Leatherdale.

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Leatherdale, S.T., Sparks, R. & Kirsh, V.A. Beliefs about Tobacco Industry (mal)Practices and Youth Smoking Behaviour: Insight for Future Tobacco Control Campaigns (Canada). Cancer Causes Control 17, 705–711 (2006).

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