This paper examined knowledge about the health effects of smoking among health equity groups following the 2012 introduction of refreshed pictorial health warning labels (HWLs) in Canada. Data are from the 2012/2013 Youth Smoking Survey a representative school-based survey of 47,203 adolescents in Grades 6–12 in nine provinces. Regression models examined overall knowledge about eight health effects of smoking included in the HWLs. Less than one-third of adolescents (32.2%) knew that smoking causes vision loss/blindness and 33.7% knew that smoking causes bladder cancer. Whereas knowledge was high for lung cancer (93.9%), knowledge about other health effects ranged from 52.9% for chronic bronchitis/emphysema to 77.6% for gum or mouth disease. Non-smoking adolescents who were: susceptible to future smoking, male, ethnic minorities, and who had less spending money were significantly less likely to be knowledgeable of the health effects of smoking. There were fewer disparities in knowledge about the health effects of smoking among smokers. Smokers who bought loose or bagged cigarettes rather than cigarettes in packages or cartons were significantly less likely to be knowledgeable about the health effects of smoking. There are significant disparities in knowledge about the health effects of smoking by health equity groups particularly among non-smoking adolescents. Warning labels have the potential to reduce disparities in knowledge about the health effects of smoking when exposure to the warning labels is universal. Complementary strategies such as mass media campaigns are needed to address disparities in knowledge.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health