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Health Educ Res. 2004 Dec;19(6):635-43. Epub 2004 Jun 15.

The role of cannabis in supporting young people's cigarette smoking: a qualitative exploration.

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  • 1Research Unit in Health, Behaviour and Change, School of Clinical Sciences and Community Health, University of Edinburgh, Teviot Place, Edinburgh EH8 9AG, UK.


This paper reports findings from a qualitative study which explores the role of cannabis in young people's lives during their early teenage years. In particular, it focuses on the relationship between cannabis and tobacco-related beliefs and behaviour. Fifty-nine young people of both sexes, aged 13-15, from different socioeconomic backgrounds, and with a wide range of cigarette and cannabis use experience, took part in the study. All were recruited from youth club settings and most were interviewed in self-selected friendship pairs. The paper argues that, while many young people appear to hold predominantly negative views about cigarettes, particularly in relation to their potential to foster dependence, cannabis is often viewed as relatively benign. In spite of these beliefs, for some 'cannabis-oriented' young people, their cannabis use appears to support and reinforce their smoking habit. The paper concludes that a coordinated approach to the planning and delivery of services which addresses young people's health risk behaviours is required. Smoking cessation and drugs education practitioners need to break with tradition, and find ways of working more closely together.

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