Beyond Educating the Masses: The Role of Public Health Communication in Addressing Socioeconomic- and Residence-based Disparities in Tobacco Risk Perception

Health Commun. 2020 Oct 15:1-8. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2020.1831755. Online ahead of print.


Public health communication has long been a key component of tobacco control efforts. However, little is known whether and how such an effort could address disparities in tobacco risk perceptions among population subgroups. In this study, using data from the Global Adult Tobacco Survey of Ethiopia, we examined if tobacco risk perceptions varied across socioeconomic and urban vs. rural population subgroups, and whether and how exposure to anti-smoking message was associated with disparities in risk perceptions across socioeconomic and urban-rural subgroups. The results indicated that health risk perceptions of smoking and secondhand smoke exposure were significantly lower among rural, less educated and less affluent population subgroups. Controlling for age, gender, education, wealth, place of residence, and pro-smoking message exposure, anti-smoking message exposure was associated with greater risk perceptions of smoking. Moreover, anti-smoking message exposure moderated the associations of place of residence and education with risk perceptions of smoking and secondhand smoke exposure, respectively. The probability of risk perception of smoking associated with anti-smoking message exposure was higher among the rural populace compared to urbanites. Similarly, the probability of risk perception of secondhand smoke exposure associated with anti-smoking message exposure was the highest among individuals without formal education compared to those with primary, secondary, and college-level education. The findings suggest that efforts should be made to make sure adequate anti-smoking message exposure among less educated and rural audiences so as to reduce disparities in tobacco risk perceptions.

PMID:33054385 | DOI:10.1080/10410236.2020.1831755