Although youth smoking in Europe has been highlighted as a significant public health concern, there is little data available to guide development of population-specific smoking prevention measures. In this study, we examined smoking-prevalence and smoking-related attitudes and perceptions among 118 young adults in Malta (a country for which there is little existing data), with comparison data from a sample of young adults in the UK (N = 112). To ensure that samples were demographically similar (e.g. in terms of age, level of education, and social status) we obtained data from university students. Only students of Maltese nationality (in Malta), or British nationality (in the UK) were invited to participate. Participants completed measures of smoking behavior, perceived risks of smoking, subjective norms, temptation to smoke, and attitudes towards smoking cessation. Almost half (46%) of the Maltese students were current smokers, compared to 25% of the British students. British students were more aware of the risks of smoking than their Maltese counterparts, perceived greater social pressure not to smoke and held more positive attitudes towards smoking cessation; Maltese students reported greater temptation to smoke and were around others who smoke more often than the British students. Attitudes and perceptions were associated with smoking behavior in both samples although the relative importance of psychological determinants of smoking varied between the two samples. Our data indicate higher smoking prevalence and more pro-smoking attitudes/ perceptions among students in Malta, consistent with data for other Southern European countries. Findings also indicate that the influence of smoking-related attitudes and perceptions varies between populations and the influence of social norms in particular may be moderated by nationality.
Mallia, C., & Hamilton-West, K. (2010). Smoking-related attitudes and perceptions among young adults in Malta and the UK. Psychology, Health & Medicine, 15(3), 347-356. https://doi.org/10.1080/13548501003653200