Tobacco perceptions and practices: User groups and demographic characteristics, Mississippi, USA

Thomas J. Payne, Joy L. Hart*, Aida L. Giachello, Kandi L. Walker, Wei Wang, Allison Groom, Mario Sims, Clara G. Sears, Alexander S. Lee, Lindsay K. Tompkins, Anshula Kesh, Karen Robb, Rose M. Robertson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


INTRODUCTION Despite decreases in the overall US smoking rate, tobacco use remains more common in some areas and by some groups. Deeper understanding of group differences is needed in order to tailor public health campaigns to the interests, perceptions and experiences of targeted audiences. Although some differences have been identified across African American and Caucasian smokers in the United States, additional insight is needed regarding factors that differentiate these groups. This study examined tobacco-related perceptions and practices, with an emphasis on identifying differences across African American and Caucasian smokers. Toward this goal, we examined key demographic variables of race and age, and tobacco use characteristics. METHODS The sample consisted of 284 people from the Jackson, Mississippi area who participated in focus groups and completed surveys addressing a variety of tobacco-related topics, including knowledge and perceptions of products as well as use and health information seeking behavior. The selection criteria and recruitment approach ensured a balance across race (black, white), age (18–34, >35 years), sex, and cigarette smoking status (current, former, never). Statistical analyses were performed using SAS (v.9.4). RESULTS Differences were observed across demographic subgroups regarding type and pattern of tobacco products used (e.g. mentholated, markers of nicotine dependence, hookah). Differences in preferred sources of health information based on age as well as perceptions of risk as a function of age, smoking status and race were also noted. Exposure to secondhand smoke and perceptions of its risks, quitting efforts and cessation methods differed by race. CONCLUSIONS Study findings suggest key differences across important subgroups. Knowledge of such differences has the potential to improve strategic public health messaging, allowing health campaigns to more effectively prevent tobacco product uptake as well as promote interest in quitting tobacco.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalPopulation Medicine
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • age differences
  • racial differences
  • risk perception
  • smoking
  • tobacco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Policy
  • Health Informatics
  • Epidemiology
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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