Knowledge and beliefs regarding the consequences of cigarette smoking and their relationships to smoking status in a biracial sample

Health Psychol. 1988;7(5):387-401. doi: 10.1037//0278-6133.7.5.387.


The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate carefully smoking-related knowledge and beliefs and their relationships to smoking status in a large, heterogeneous sample of smokers and nonsmokers in two settings: (a) a large, biracial southern city and (b) a small midwestern community. Participants were 611 (198 male, 413 female) adult respondents to a random-dialing telephone survey in Fargo, North Dakota (n = 200), and Memphis, Tennessee (n = 411). Each participant was given the Smoking Attitudes Survey, which assesses generalized health beliefs as well as health-related problems associated with smoking. Participants' knowledge of smoking-associated diseases (e.g., lung cancer) and of diseases not associated with smoking (e.g., kidney stones) was assessed. Stepwise regression analysis of composite knowledge scores revealed four independent predictors of the health consequences of smoking: education, race, smoking status, and income. Smokers, compared to nonsmokers, reported less knowledge related to the health consequences of smoking, were more likely to be male, were less concerned with the health consequences of smoking, and were more concerned about the health consequences of cholesterol. The best predictor of smokers who had never attempted cessation was their greater concern over weight control when compared to smokers with a history of smoking cessation attempts. The results are discussed in terms of smoking prevention and intervention efforts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health*
  • Black or African American / psychology
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Male
  • North Dakota
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Tennessee
  • White People / psychology