An Intersectionality based framework for tobacco control

Douglas, Jenny (2015). An Intersectionality based framework for tobacco control. In: International Conference on Public Policy, 1-4 Jul 2015, Milan.



While Pederson, Greaves and Poole (2014) propose a frame-work for gender-transformative health promotion to address tobacco control, this paper proposes an intersectionality based framework for health promotion and tobacco control. Gender cannot exist as an independent category and always intersects with ‘race’, ethnicity, culture, sexuality and class (Phoenix and Pattynama, 2006). Public health research and policy on cigarette smoking and tobacco control must acknowledge the social and cultural context of cigarette smoking in order to develop relevant and appropriate public health programmes and policies.
This paper draws on a study that used a multi-method, interdisciplinary research design that combines approaches from health promotion, women’s studies and sociology. The study explored how ‘race’, class and gender intersect with cigarette smoking. In the first stage, data on patterns and influences on smoking behaviour in young African, African-Caribbean and white women people were collected using a self-completion questionnaire to compare the influence of gender, ethnicity, social class on cigarette smoking behaviour and perceptions of cigarette smoking. In the second stage seven focus groups were conducted with young African-Caribbean women to collect qualitative data on factors which influence smoking behaviour and the meaning that smoking has for this group of young women.
The study concluded that while there is a body of literature on gender and smoking which demonstrates an association between social disadvantage and cigarette smoking in white women, this explanation does not necessarily apply to black women. This research demonstrated that findings based on predominantly one ethno-cultural group do not necessarily translate to other groups, even if they live under similar material conditions. An exploration of gender, ‘race’, ethnicity, class and cigarette smoking in this study highlights the need for new directions in health promotion research and tobacco control policies with young women that utilise an intersectional framework. This paper explores how an intersectionality –informed approach can be applied to tobacco control policies.

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