Self-Exempting Beliefs and Intention to Quit Smoking within a Socially Disadvantaged Australian Sample of Smokers

Ashleigh Guillaumier, Billie Bonevski, Christine Paul, Catherine D’este, Laura Twyman, Kerrin Palazzi, Christopher Oldmeadow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
28 Downloads (Pure)


An investigation of beliefs used to rationalise smoking will have important implications for the content of anti-smoking programs targeted at socioeconomically disadvantaged groups, who show the lowest rates of cessation in the population. This study aimed to assess the types of self-exempting beliefs reported by a sample of socioeconomically disadvantaged smokers, and identify associations between these beliefs and other smoking-related factors with quit intentions. A cross-sectional survey was conducted from March–December 2012 with smokers seeking welfare assistance in New South Wales (NSW), Australia (n = 354; response rate 79%). Responses to a 16-item self-exempting beliefs scale and intention to quit, smoker identity, and enjoyment of smoking were assessed. Most participants earned <AUD$400/week (70%), and had not completed secondary schooling (64%). All “jungle” beliefs (normalising the dangers of smoking due to ubiquity of risk) and selected “skeptic” beliefs were endorsed by 25%–47% of the sample, indicating these smokers may not fully understand the extensive risks associated with smoking. Smokers with limited quit intentions held significantly stronger self-exempting beliefs than those contemplating or preparing to quit (all p <0.01). After adjusting for smoking-related variables only “skeptic” beliefs were significantly associated with intention to quit (p = 0.02). Some of these beliefs are incorrect and could be addressed in anti-smoking campaigns.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Disadvantage
  • Self-exempting beliefs
  • Smoking


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