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Reason of Smoking in Young Adult

Reason of Smoking in Young Adult


Young adult smoking is a global health problem. Australia is one of the countries where smoking is public health issue considering that smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the country. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (2013) study found that smoking is also a major risk factor for three of the leading causes of death in Australia, including cerebrovascular disease, ischaemic disease, and lung cancer. Despite this, the prevalence of young adult smokers has been increasing in Australia with about 17 percent of young adults smoking in Australia with a similar trend observed in most countries across the globe (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2013). However, in an effort to find a solution to smoking, there have been many kinds of literature that attempt to investigate the reasons of smoking among young adults among them Gendall et al. (2016), Bricker et al. (2011) and Cosh et al. (2015).

Methodologies used in the Research

The studies on the reason of smoking in young people have been conducted mainly by employing qualitative studies that involved the use of surveys, and interviews. Gendall et al. (2015, p. 2) investigated the relationship between tobacco advertising and starting of smoking among young adults in New Zealand aged 18 to 25 years. The researchers conducted the study by interviewing a sample of 419 smokers and non-smokers online to understand the influence of 50 smoking motion pictures from 423 US top box office movies on their smoking behaviors. Bricker et al. (2011, p. 999) predicted causes of smoking and cessation among young adults in Washington using self-reported avoidant coping strategy involving a sample of 3,305 respondents. Cosh et al. (2015, p. 335) investigated the attitudes and experiences about smoking and cessation among young Australian Aboriginals using a focus group consisting of a sample size of 32 South Australian Aboriginal smokers living in urban areas.

Study Findings

Exposure to Smoking Movies and Family and Peer Influence

Gendall et al. (2015, p. 6) note that smoking among young people is a growing problem in New Zealand. However, the researchers found that, other than the influence of friends, families, work colleagues, age, and rebelliousness, exposure to smoking experiences was a major contributor to smoking behaviors among New Zealand young adults. In particular, the researchers observed that exposure to smoking movies increased the risk of a youth indulging in smoking behavior by about 54%. Gendall et al. (2015, p. 7) concluded based on this study that smoking movies remain a higher risk factor for tobacco smoking even in New Zealand, where there are tobacco control laws in place. Similarly, although Cosh et al. (2015, p. 336) did not study the influence of smoking advertisements/movies on smoking, they observed in their study that family and peer influence was a major factor for young people’s indulgence in smoking habits. In their study, Cosh et al. (2015, p. 336) found that young people indulge in smoking because of the desire to look cool as their peers that smoke. Additionally, like Gendall et al. (2015) study, Cosh et al. (2015, p. 336) found that the risk of a young person smoking was higher when a member of a family smoked.

High Score on Avoidant Coping

Bricker et al. (2011, p. 1000) study on the causes of tobacco use and cessation among young adults found that young adults with a high score on avoidant coping are at an increased risk of indulging in smoking behavior than those people with a low avoidant coping abilities. However, the researchers noted that avoidant coping only increased the risk of those individuals aged 18 years and below to smoking behaviors with no effect recorded for persons at 28 or above. Gendall et al. (2015) and Cosh et al. (2015) study differs with that of Bricker et al. (2011) considering that Gendall et al. (2015) study focused on the role of smoking movies on smoking behaviors among young adults while Bricker et al. (2011) study focused on self-reported avoidant coping on smoking behaviors.

Stress, Peer and Family Influence and Boredom

Cosh et al. (2015, p. 336) made an interesting observation in their study in which they found that stress was a major reason for young adults indulging in smoking behaviors. Although the sources of stress that trigger smoking acquisition was not investigated by the researchers, the majority of the participants singled out family issues as the main source of stress that forced them to smoke behaviors. In addition to the family issues, other sources of stress that force young people to indulge in smoking habits were found to include the death of a loved one, and work-related stress. This differs with Bricker et al. (2011) and Gendall et al. (2015) that did not look at the role of stress in smoking behavior among young people. For instance, Gendall et al. (2015, p. 6) study focused entirely on the influence of smoking movies on smoking behavior without looking at the role of stress. Similarly, contributes greatly to the literature on reasons young people start smoking since previous studies such as Bricker et al. (2011) failed to look at the role of stress by focusing only on the role of avoidant coping on smoking behaviors.

Another interesting observation by Cosh et al. (2015, p. 337) is that most young people started smoking because of boredom. In their study, Cosh and colleagues noted that most young adults indulged in smoking whenever they felt bored as a means of removing boredom. This is an interesting finding considering that the other two studies, Bricker et al. (2011) and Gendall et al. (2015) did not look at the role of boredom in youth indulgence in smoking behaviors.


The study has found that smoking is a global health problem that needs to be dealt with, especially in developed countries like Australia, where smoking is a leading cause of preventable deaths. As discussed in the literature, exposure to smoking movies, high avoidant coping, stress, peer pressure, family influence and boredom are the main reasons identified as the cause of smoking among young adults. This implies that smoking cessation strategies and policies should focus on these triggers if smoking among young adults is to be addressed.

Study Limitations

Although Gendall et al. (2015, p. 9) study found that smoking movies are among the leading cause of smoking behavior among young people, the fact that the study could not determine the causality because of using cross-sectional data was a great limitation. The other limitation is that the 423 movies used in the study were produced from the U.S. while ignoring movies released in New Zealand and other countries. Additionally, there was a limitation of the study in the sense that Gendall et al. (2015, p. 9) study only looked at the direct impact of smoking in movies and the fact that the study under-represented the less educated despite the high prevalence among the underrepresented group. The greatest limitations of Bricker et al. (2011, p.998) study is that the samples used in the study were taken only from Washington State, which might not provide true representation. However, Cosh et al. (2015) study had a limitation in the sense that the sample size of 32 that was used was too small to represent the general population.


Australian Bureau of Statistics 2013, Tobacco smoking, viewed 31 August 2016 http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/[email protected]/Lookup/by%20Subject/4338.0~2011-13~Main%20Features~Tobacco%20smoking~10008

Bricker, J. B., Schiff, L., & Comstock, B. A 2011,” Does avoidant coping influence young adults’ smoking? A ten-year longitudinal study,” Nicotine & Tobacco Research, vol. 13, no.10, pp. 998–1002.

Cosh, S., Hawkins, K., Skaczkowski, G., Copley, D., & Bowden, J 2015, “Tobacco use among urban Aboriginal Australian young people: a qualitative study of reasons for smoking, barriers to cessation and motivators for smoking cessation,” Australian Journal of Primary Health, vol. 21, pp. 334–341.

Gendall, P., Hoek, J., Edwards, R., & Glantz, S 2016, “Effect of Exposure to Smoking in Movies on Young Adult Smoking in New Zealand,” PLoS ONE vol. 11, no. 3, pp. 1-12. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0148692