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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 200347 Find in a Library
Title: Lighting Up: Young Adults' Autobiographical Accounts of Their First Smoking Experiences
Journal: Youth & Society  Volume:34  Issue:4  Dated:June 2003  Pages:468-496
Author(s): Denise E. Delorme; Peggy J. Kreshel; Leonard N. Reid
Date Published: June 2003
Page Count: 29
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article discusses the autobiographical memories of young adults’ first smoking experiences.
Abstract: Adolescents are experimenting with tobacco at increasingly younger ages. Initial experimentation is a critical step in becoming a regular smoker and can have a long-term impact on young people’s lives. Autobiographical memory has been labeled personal, episodic, and recollective memory. In this study, typical cases were chosen on the basis of their potential to yield information about the nature, character, and context of smoking initiation. Participants were recruited from undergraduate classes at three public universities in the southeastern United States. Participants were asked to write an essay describing their first use of cigarettes in their own words. A profile of the participants’ characteristics shows that the age of first experimentation was 13. Forty-nine percent never smoked again, 45 percent continued to smoke, and 6 percent continued to smoke but quit later. Reasons cited for quitting included unpleasantness of the act, parental reactions, health considerations, appearance effects, finances, and values and religious views. Participants that continued to smoke gave a number of reasons for their behavior. Some classified themselves as “social smokers,” meaning they smoked to form, maintain, or strengthen social bonds. Others described themselves as “casual smokers,” smoking on occasion under certain conditions. Participants obtained their first cigarettes by being offered a cigarette, asking for a cigarette, taking one without permission, or purchasing a pack. There is a suggestion that peer pressure is a dimension of many first-use experiences. Smoking was seen as a way to be accepted as part of the group or obtain the approval of a particular peer. First smoking acts resulted in a mixture of positive and negative outcomes. The participants were able to provide far more reasons for quitting after the first experience than for smoking again. Mentions of negative consequences outnumbered positive mentions approximately four to one. Males were more likely than females to say that smoking resulted in happiness and relaxation; females were more likely to associate first use with feeling accomplished and mature. 1 table, 51 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile drug use; Tobacco use
Index Term(s): Drug effects; Drug research; Drug use; Group behavior; Parental influence; Peer influences on behavior
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