Objective: To explore how male Bangladeshi smokers adapted to the English smoke-free legislation.
Design: We draw on data derived from the Evaluation of Smoke-free England (ESME), a qualitative, longitudinal study conducted between 2007 and 2008 in two English metropolitan areas. Repeat interviews (n = 34) were conducted before and after the legislation with 15 male Bangladeshi panel informants and from two focus groups: one with Bangladeshi men and the other with Bangladeshi women.
Results: Bangladeshi smokers who participated in this study had largely accommodated to the smoke-free legislation and most had reduced their consumption of cigarettes, albeit to a modest degree. However, at the same time some Bangladeshi smokers appeared to have increased their use of shisha, a popular alternative method of smoking tobacco in this community. Smoke-free legislation also had an impact on the social and cultural forces that shape smoking behaviour in this group. In particular, family homes continued to be a key space where tobacco is consumed, although the legislation may have helped to shift the balance in favour of forces that oppose smoking and against enduring cultural pro-smoking norms. Smoking in public was also less socially acceptable, especially in the vicinity of local mosques and at community events. In some older groups, however, smoking remains a deeply embedded social habit which can undermine smokers' efforts to quit.
Conclusion: For maximum impact, tobacco control interventions aimed at whole populations may need to be supplemented by culturally sensitive measures in local areas where there is a high concentration of Bangladeshi people. Similar considerations may apply to other minority communities with a high prevalence of smoking.