etsa010048Objective: to investigate what factors the parents of children in low income areas of Auckland, New Zealand, thought could help protect their children from smoking initiation.

Method: Participants in a large quasi-experimental trial that tested a community-, school-, and family based smoking initiation intervention were asked in a questionnaire “What could we do to help you protect your children from smoke and taking up smoking?

Free-text responses were divided into distinct meaning units and categorised independently by two of the researchers. Result: 1806 (70% of parents who returned the questionnaire) completed the question. The majority of respondents (80%) were either Pacific Island or Māori mothers and 25% were current smokers. Six main categories of suggested strategies for preventing smoking initiation were identified: building children’s knowledge of the ill-effects of smoking, reducing access to tobacco, denormalising smoking, health promotion activities, and increasing schools’ monitoring of smoking.

The most common suggestion was to educate children about smoking Discussion: Building children’s knowledge of smoking risks was the main strategy parents proposed. There was some support for banning smoking in most public areas and for tougher moves to stop tobacco sales to minors. Few parents suggested innovative or radical strategies, such as banning the sale of tobacco, fining children for smoking, or use of competitions.

So what: To ensure reductions in smoking initiation for lower socio-economic and Māori and Pacific Island people, further research should engage Māori, Pacific Island and lower socio-economic parents in a process that elicits innovative thinking about culturally acceptable strategies.

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