Lumira Lagapa | Alvin S. Concha | Maria Elinore Alba-Concha | Lillian Lao
With the advent of cutting-edge pharmacological approaches and far-reaching media campaigns towards a tobacco-free world, personal meanings around smoking rarely get considered in smoking cessation strategies. This study aimed to explore personal meanings around smoking and perceptions on smoking cessation strategies among health workers in a tertiary hospital. A qualitative methodology was employed using focus group discussions and key informant interviews. Ten ever-smoker health personnel (8 men and 2 women) were purposively selected to share diverse vignettes around starting, sustaining, and planning to quit smoking, and personal reactions to present approaches towards smoking cessation. The results of this study were based on the analysis of transcripts of two focus group discussions and two key informant interviews using the grounded theory approach. A recurring theme among the vignettes shared was the hedonistic benefits of smoking. Participants reportedly pointed out the physical pleasure derived from the taste of cigarettes, the smell and sight of a well puffed-out smoke, and the warmth that smoking affords during cold weather. These self-gratifying sensations were also claimed to accompany emotional satisfaction and bring about relief from stress, anger, or boredom. Participants also expressed disinterest in smoking cessation strategies, such as anti-smoking policies, ads, and routine medical advice, stating that no direct benefits are gained from these strategies, as compared to sustaining smoking. This study exposes important considerations that focus on entrenched personal emotional attachments to smoking, and directly implicates smoking cessation strategies that offer no more than information dissemination, pharmacological treatment, and behavioral interventions.