Objectives: To determine community views about the believability and standards of honesty and ethics of tobacco companies, related policy options, and mechanisms for tobacco control funding.
Method: A representative population survey of 808 South Australians aged 18 years and older, contacted by telephone, using an electronic white pages sampling frame, with a response rate of 72%.
Results: 80% of respondents and 74% of smokers thought tobacco companies mostly did not or never told the truth about smoking and health, children and smoking and addictiveness of tobacco. With regard to perceived standards of honesty and ethics, tobacco company executives were rated the lowest of all professional groups, with 74% of respondents judging them to have low or very low standards. 89% of smokers would support full product information on the pack about chemicals and additives in cigarettes. 77% thought shopkeepers should pay back the amount they gain from children smoking cigarettes and 80% thought tobacco companies should do so, or be fined or taxed accordingly. 53% agreed the government should spend an amount equal to the amount gained from children's smoking and 21% indicated a higher expenditure.
Conclusion: Tobacco companies are held in low regard by the public and by smokers who are their customers. There is a high degree of support for tobacco control efforts to be financed by being indexed to the level of children's smoking in the community, through the amount made by shopkeepers, manufacturers and the government from children's cigarette consumption.