Why Choose Lent for a "Smoke Out Day?" Changing Smoking Behavior in Croatia

Čivljak, Marta; Ulovec, Zlatko; Soldo, Dragan; Posavec, Marija; Orešković, Stipe
February 2005
Croatian Medical Journal;2005, Vol. 46 Issue 1, p132
Academic Journal
Aim: To evaluate the impact on smokers' behavior of public health activity related to a religious event such as Lent in a predominantly Roman Catholic country. Methods: "Smoke out day" was organized on the first day of Lent, a period of self-denial for Roman Catholics, combining cultural and religious significance for Croatian people. The day was covered by a massive media campaign. Smoking behavior and attitudes to smoking were examined using a cross-sectional anonymous survey, conducted among 2,143 TV viewers and radio listeners aged 15 and older in their households. Results: More than 75% of the interviewed persons knew the exact date of the "Smoke out day." Among smokers, 27% had given up smoking on that day and 16% declared they would not smoke during Lent. Significantly more women (34%) than men (23%) abstained from smoking on the "Smoke out day" and more women (24% vs 10.8%) had decided to abstain from smoking during Lent. The majority of abstainers were in the 30-44 age group. The lowest response to antismoking campaign was from smokers with university education. Conclusion: Antismoking mass media activity can influence smokers' behavior especially if it is connected to cultural and religious aspects. Some groups are much more sensitive to this kind of activities and may be, with a good media campaign and developed network of professional help and support, supported to transform their "Smoke out day" into a lifelong abstinence.


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