Smoking environments in transition: The experiences of recent Chinese migrants to Canada

  • Author(s) / Creator(s)
  • International migrants experience first-hand differences between countries in terms of the social meanings, spatial regulation and prevalence of smoking. This research centred on the smoking-related perceptions, experiences and behaviours of recent migrants from China to Canada. Eight focus groups were held in Edmonton, Alberta, in July–October 2013 to explore migrants' understandings of the practices and meanings of smoking in both countries. There were 58 participants (37 non-smokers and 21 smokers), most of whom were international students. Qualitative content analysis of focus group transcripts was undertaken to identify key themes. Participants observed that smoking remains almost ubiquitous in China due to ineffective spatial restrictions and the social importance of smoking among men. By contrast, smoking bans in Canada were perceived as effective due to widespread compliance and expectations of enforcement. They were conscious that male smoking was both less prevalent and less socially valued in Canada; conversely, female smoking was perceived as more accepted in Canada than in China. There was broad agreement that smoking was tolerated in Canada, provided it occurred in appropriate places. Complying with widespread spatial restrictions brought about changes in smokers' behaviours: they smoked less often, and consumed fewer cigarettes. Because smoking was more difficult to perform, participants thought the Canadian context supported quitting. Non-smokers were enthusiastic about smoke-free environments in Canada, and had become acculturated to air that did not smell of smoke. These findings affirm the importance of comprehensive smoking bans, backed by enforcement, in contributing to the denormalisation of smoking and the protection of non-smokers.

  • Date created
  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Type of Item
    Article (Published)
  • DOI
  • License
    Attribution 4.0 International
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  • Citation for previous publication
    • Li, J., and Collins, D. (2015). Smoking environments in transition: The experiences of recent Chinese migrants to Canada. Health & Social Care in the Community, (), .
  • Link to related item
    DOI: 10.1111/hsc.12252