Adolescents’ tobacco use perception and their attitude toward anti-smoking campaigns
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Medical University of Gdańsk, Gdańsk, Poland
Publication date: 2022-07-05
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2022;8(Supplement):A66
Researchers agree that smoking by adolescents causes a range of significant and long-lasting health issues, including a negative effect on brain development. According to the WHO, most smokers have had their first cigarette or were already addicted by the age of 18 years. The increased popularity of e-cigarettes seems to be shifting the known paradigm of smoking addiction especially among young people.

The objective of the presented research is to describe and understand adolescents’ perception of tobacco use. The focus is given on indicating attributes related to traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes, and on the differences in mode of use of both. Utilizing the results, we aim to formulate a set of guidelines supporting creation of an effective anti-smoking campaign focused at young people.

We use qualitative research, utilizing focus-group interviews. The sample included six focus groups, consisting of smokers and non-smokers, situated in three different cities in Poland. The interviewees were young adults aged 16–18 years, coming from a variety of backgrounds. Interviews were transcribed and further analyzed using the template analysis approach.

The conducted analysis indicates a clear distinction between the attributes assigned to traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes. Peer pressure still plays a significant role on the decision to start smoking despite the type of cigarette. Yet, e-cigarettes are perceived principally as entertainment and are associated with youth. Although the respondents are aware of the health-related consequences of smoking, knowledge about e-cigarettes is limited and the motivation to quit is low. The immediate comfort provided by smoking seems to overwhelm the health issues, which are perceive postponed in time.

The research provides a new perspective on perception and use of e-cigarettes among young adults. Based on the results, it might be speculated that addressing the campaigns for different age-levels, focusing on factors influencing smoking behaviors at each stage, as well as following the ‘youth culture’, may provide better results.

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