Background: Children at earlier stages tend to be more susceptible towards different types of tobacco messages. These are able to influence attitudes and behaviours around smoking. This study examined how these messages are able to influence 5- and 6-year olds' attitudes about smokers and their smoking intentions. Methods: Researchers worked one-on-one with 5- and 6-year olds (n = 398) in Brazil. Children could attribute positive and negative characteristics to two different persons in photos as smoker/non-smoker. Children could indicate the attribute as of a smoker, a non-smoker, both or none. Children were asked also about their smoking intentions. Analysis considered parental smoking, sex, age, cigarette and alcohol brand logos, children's location and media characters from cartoons. We conducted a path analysis for a multivariate model of children's attitudes and intentions about smoking. Results: Overall, children had negative attitudes about smokers (M = -4.58, SD = 4.08) and a total of 32 (8.0%) of them reported intentions to smoke. The resulting multivariate model indicates that parental smoking is a source for a positive image of smokers, while being 6 years old, living in rural areas, being aware of alcohol brands and recognizing educational cartoons tended to be negatively correlated to children's attitudes. Further, 6 year olds were found to be less likely to have smoking intentions, while attitude about smokers was positively related with intentions. One's attitudes served as a mediator for all of the variables in the model towards smoking intentions. The path models differed for each sex. Conclusion: Shaped by social and environmental influences, very young children have opinions about smokers. In turn, these attitudes significantly predict children's smoking intentions. To corroborate this research, we recommend that longitudinal designs be employed to help model why Brazilian children become smokers.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health