Social Norms and Attitudes About Smoking

This report reviews changes in social norms and attitudes about tobacco use, as reported in national or large-scale surveys (from multiple states or in a single state such as California), and the parallel evolution of programs supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and its collaborators to strengthen the tobacco-control infrastructure.

Majorie Gutman, Ph.D., prepared this report for the Center for Public Program Evaluation and RWJF. Gutman is a principal at Gutman Research Associates, a private consulting group that focuses on development and evaluation of large-scale prevention programs, particularly devoted to substance use (tobacco, alcohol, illegal drugs) and childhood obesity.

For the findings reported here, researchers searched more than 20 surveys, studies and other sources of nationally representative data on attitudes and norms toward smoking among youth and adults. Gutman concludes that changes in attitudes and norms toward tobacco use have, in all likelihood, been part of the combination of factors resulting in the overall decrease in smoking during the past few decades, and RWJF investments have probably contributed to this dynamic.