Perspectives on smoking initiation and maintenance: A qualitative exploration among singapore youth

Mythily Subramaniam, Shazana Shahwan, Restria Fauziana, Pratika Satghare, Louisa Picco, Janhavi Ajit Vaingankar, Siow Ann Chong

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25 Citations (Scopus)


Studies among adolescents have shown that several important interpersonal, intrapersonal and environmental factors are associated with smoking behaviour. The current qualitative research project aimed to explore the determinants of smoking initiation and maintenance, from a youth perspective, among young people who smoked, living in a multi-ethnic Asian country. Focus group discussions (FGDs) were conducted with youths in Singapore in youth-friendly and accessible locations. Young people, from a variety of social contexts—varying on age, gender, ethnicity and educational level, were included in the study. All FGDs were conducted in English and participants were recruited using a mix of network and purposive sampling. All FGDs were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. The data were analyzed using qualitative content analysis, allowing themes to emerge from the data with the goal of answering the research question. Ninety-one youth smokers (54 males, 37 females), aged between 14 to 29 years, participated in the study. The majority were males (59%) and of Chinese ethnicity (52%). Participants identified multiple personal, social, and familial influences on young adults’ smoking behaviors. Peer and family influences, as well as risk minimization, played a key role in smoking initiation and maintenance. While young people were aware of policiesthat restricted smoking, these did not directly affect their decision to start smoking. The theory of triadic influence provided a promising theoretical framework to understand smoking initiation and maintenance in a sample of young adult smokers from a multi-ethnic Asian country. It also provides actionable information for initiatives to prevent smoking in young people, which includes their perspectives and emphasizes an inclusive approach without stigmatizing those who smoke.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8956-8970
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Asian
  • Family
  • Health-risks
  • Peers
  • Policy
  • Smoking

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