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Health Educ Behav. 2009 Aug;36(4):746-58. doi: 10.1177/1090198108317628. Epub 2008 May 13.

Adolescents' perceptions of smoking and stress reduction.

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BearingPoint, Atlanta, Georgia 30346, USA.


The present study examined how adolescents perceive the relationship between smoking and stress and where they learn that smoking cigarettes may be an effective stress-reduction mechanism. Eight focus groups were conducted with low-income African American and European American 14- to 16-year-olds in urban and rural locations, in which they suggested that the primary reasons why they smoked-namely, as a coping mechanism (to calm nerves), for social acceptance, and because of environmental influences. Family issues, boyfriend/girlfriend problems, and school were common stressors. Although participants overwhelmingly believed that people smoke to reduce their stress, a few believed that cigarettes do not actually reduce stress. When asked for examples of smoking in popular media, teens predominantly generated examples of individuals smoking to reduce stress. Ethnic and gender differences were found among the types of media in which they had seen smoking, their opinions of anti-smoking messages, and the media's perceived influence.

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