A qualitative study to assess perceptions, barriers, and motivators supporting smokeless tobacco cessation in the US fire service
Publication Source


Journal article
The Americas
Economy status
High-income economies

While firefighters currently have low smoking rates, rates of smokeless tobacco (SLT) use among this population are remarkably high and substantially greater than similar occupational groups, and the general population. This study explored determinants associated with SLT use, barriers to cessation, and motivators for SLT cessation in the fire service. Key informant interviews were conducted in 23 career firefighters who were current (n = 14) and former (n = 9) SLT users from across the U.S. Discussions were recorded and independently coded according to questions and themes. Major themes that developed among firefighters regarding SLT use determinants included positive perceptions of SLT products, social influences from their peers and family members, acceptability of SLT use in the fire service, and a coping resource for job stress. Firefighters discussed several barriers to SLT cessation, including intrapersonal barriers such as SLT use habits and its dependency, concerns about withdrawal symptoms; and social-environmental barriers including lack of support from health and other services providers, and lack of enforcement of existing tobacco policies regarding SLT use. Firefighters also mentioned both internal and external motivators for cessation. Internal motivators included self-motivation and their health concerns while external motivators included friends and family support, incentives or rewards, and price of SLT products. Findings provide unique perspectives from firefighters on factors that influence SLT use and barriers and motivators to SLT cessation. These are insufficiently assessed and considered by the fire service organizations and their health care providers. Thus, the organizations must understand these issues in order to mitigate barriers and motivate the personnel to quit using SLT. Information gained from firefighters who were current and former SLT users can be used to develop an effective, culturally-tailored intervention that is acceptable to fire service personnel.