This study examined whether awareness of tobacco control policies was associated with social unacceptability of smoking and whether social unacceptability had an effect on smoking cessation in three European countries. Representative samples (n = 3865) of adult smokers in France, the Netherlands and Germany were used from two survey waves of the longitudinal International Tobacco Control Europe Surveys. Associations were examined of aspects of social unacceptability of smoking (i.e. feeling uncomfortable, important people disapproval and societal disapproval) with tobacco policy awareness (i.e. awareness of warning labels, anti-tobacco information and smoking restrictions at work) and smoking cessation. Only the positive association of awareness of anti-tobacco information with feeling uncomfortable about smoking was significant in each of the three countries. Important people disapproval predicted whether smokers attempted to quit, although this did not reach significance in the French and German samples in multivariate analyses. Our findings suggest that anti-tobacco information campaigns about the dangers of second-hand smoke in France and about smoking cessation in the Netherlands and Germany might have reduced the social acceptability of smoking in these countries. However, campaigns that influence the perceived disapproval of smoking by important people may be needed to ultimately increase attempts to quit smoking.
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