Tobacco control policies and other denormalization strategies may reduce tobacco use by stigmatizing smoking. This raises an important question: Does perceived smoking-related stigma contribute to a smoker’s decision to quit? The aim of this study was to evaluate if perceived smoking-related stigma was associated with smoking cessation outcomes among smokers in Mexico and Uruguay.
We analyzed prospective data from a panel of adult smokers who participated in the 2008-2012 administrations of the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Surveys in Mexico and Uruguay. We defined two analytic samples of participants: the quit behavior sample (n=3896 Mexico; n=1525 Uruguay) and the relapse sample (n=596 Mexico). Generalized estimating equations were used to evaluate if different aspects of perceived stigma (i.e., discomfort, marginalization, and negative stereotype) at baseline were associated with smoking cessation outcomes at follow-up.
We found that perceived smoking-related stigma was associated with a higher likelihood of making a quit attempt in Uruguay, but with a lower likelihood of successful quitting in Mexico.
This study suggests that perceived smoking-related stigma may be associated with more quit attempts, but less successful quitting among smokers. It is possible that once stigma is internalized by smokers, it may function as a damaging force. Future studies should evaluate the influence of internalized stigma on smoking behavior.
While perceived smoking-related stigma may prompt smokers to quit smoking, smoking stigma may also serve as a damaging force for some individuals, making quitting more difficult. This study found that perceived smoking-related stigma was associated with a higher likelihood of making a quit attempt in Uruguay, but with a lower likelihood of successful quitting in Mexico.