Smokers' risk perception, socioeconomic status and source of information on cancer
Peretti-Watel, P.; Seror, V.ér.; Verger, P.; Guignard, R.; Legleye, S.ép.; Beck, F.ço.
Addictive Behaviors 39(9): 1304-1310
ISSN/ISBN: 1873-6327 PMID: 24836161 DOI: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2014.04.016
In many countries, the decline in smoking prevalence has coincided with a growing concentration of smoking among people with lower socioeconomic status (SES). This concentration may reflect the social differentiation of risk perceptions. We investigated the factors associated with risk perception and fear of cancer, paying particular attention to SES indicators and health information seeking. A cross-sectional telephone survey conducted in France in 2010 (including 826 current smokers aged 18-75) assessing how smokers perceive the risk of smoking-related cancer in terms of daily consumption and duration thresholds. Among current smokers, 38% considered that smoking can cause cancer only for a daily consumption higher than their own consumption, and an additional 22% stated that tobacco-related cancer risk only becomes high for a longer smoking duration than their personal one. Predictors of such risk perceptions included low SES, material deprivation and mentioning either the internet or their relatives as one's main source of information on cancer. The same characteristics were also predictive of personal fear of tobacco-related cancer. Our results illustrate the challenges faced by prevention campaigns in the internet society, as information found on the web may fuel smokers' risk denial. Anti-tobacco policies should tailor interventions to people with low SES, who may be especially impervious to standard prevention campaigns because of material deprivation, and they should also address and challenge smokers' risk denial beliefs.