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Article | Bar Atmospherics and Smoking: A Qualitative Analysis of New Zealand Young Adult Smokers

ASPIRE researchers have published a new paper exploring how outdoor bar settings facilitate and normalise smoking among young adults. Earlier work has established how smoking uptake often occurs alongside alcohol use but few studies have explored how “atmospherics” contribute to experiences of smoking in outdoor bar areas.

MPH student Julia Brillinger and Professor Janet Hoek conducted in-depth interviews with 22 young adults who had recently smoked in a New Zealand bar or nightclub and probed their experiences of smoking in outside bar settings. Overall, participants valued outdoor smoking areas that were comfortable and relaxing, and saw attributes such as seating, tables, heating, protection from inclement weather, and minimal crowding, as important. When analysing participants’ experiences, the researchers identified four themes that explained how participants used smoking to gain respite, make social connections, and manage smoking’s stigma. Ms Brillinger and Professor Hoek also used participants’ comments to identify potential policy measures that could decouple smoking and alcohol co-use.

The findings indicate that outdoor bar environments facilitate and normalise smoking among young adults and raise important questions about whether smokefree policies should be expanded to include all bar areas (outdoor as well as indoor). Introducing more comprehensive smokefree outdoor policies could reduce the influence of design attributes that foster smoking while also reframing smoking as outside normal social practice.

Full citation: Brillinger, J., Marsh, L., & Hoek, J. (2020). Bar Atmospherics and Smoking: A Qualitative Analysis of New Zealand Young Adult Smokers. Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

Corresponding author: Janet.hoek@otago.ac.nz