Background: In addition to their primary goal of protecting nonsmokers from secondhand smoke, smoke-free air laws may also encourage intentions to quit smoking, quit attempts, and cessation among smokers. However, laws may not encourage quitting if smokers feel threatened by them and react defensively. Objective: This study examined whether spontaneous self-affirmation - the extent to which people think about their values or strengths when they feel threatened - may reduce smokers' reactance to smoke-free laws, enhancing the ability of the laws to encourage quitting. Method: We linked state-level information on the comprehensiveness of U.S. smoke-free laws (compiled in January, 2013 by the American Lung Association) with data from a U.S. health survey (Health Information National Trends Survey) collected from September-December, 2013 (N = 345 current smokers; 587 former smokers). Results: Smoke-free laws interacted with self-affirmation to predict quit attempts in the past year and intentions to quit in the next six months: Smokers higher in self-affirmation reported more quit attempts and quit intentions if they lived in states with more comprehensive smoke-free laws. There was some evidence of a "boomerang" effect (i.e., less likelihood of making a quit attempt) among smokers low in self-affirmation if living in states with more comprehensive smoke-free laws, but this effect was significant only among smokers extremely low in self-affirmation. For quit intentions, there was no evidence for a boomerang effect of smoke-free laws even among smokers extremely low in self-affirmation. More comprehensive smoke-free laws were not associated with smoking status (former vs. current smoker) or average amount smoked per day, nor did they interact with self-affirmation to predict these outcomes. Conclusions: The impact of smoke-free policies on quit attempts and quit intentions may be moderated by psychological characteristics such as the tendency to spontaneously self-affirm. Follow-ups should experimentally manipulate self-affirmation and examine effects of smoke-free laws in controlled contexts.
Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research
Choose a citation style from the tabs below