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Published: 3 March 2014

Authors: Oliver, J., Thomson, G and Wilson, N.

There is very limited evidence in the qualitative literature about the reasons the public think smoking should or should not be allowed in outdoor areas. One study in Toronto, Canada found some smokers were more comfortable smoking away from non-smokers. Non-smokers reported discomfort, nuisance, health concerns and repugnance about cigarette butt litter.

In some media websites, readers can leave online comments alongside electronic news articles, and this has increased the ability of the public to comment on news articles. There appear to be few published analyses of online comments provoked by tobacco-related news items. These have found conflicting views from smokers and non-smokers, as well as discourses around quitting, rights and evidence.

Because of the restricted qualitative evidence about attitudes to them, we aimed to identify what themes could be found in online discussions provoked by news articles on smokefree outdoor public areas in New Zealand, and to explore the potential utility of this data source for public health research more generally.