Date of Conferral





Public Health


Michale Dunn


In 1964, the Surgeon General issued the first report that linked smoking cigarettes as a direct cause of emphysema, heart disease, and lung cancer. Despite this landmark publication, the primary cause of preventable deaths each year in the United States continues to be related to the use of tobacco. Regardless of decades of health education and resources available to inform society that the use of tobacco products can have deleterious effects on health, adolescents continue to experiment with them. The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of the influences of adolescent tobacco use. Based on the social cognitive theory, this qualitative study involved adolescent individual interviews and community adult focus groups to compare the perceptions of what influences adolescents to use tobacco. Responses of both the adolescents and community adults were coded, categorized into themes, and ranked based on their similarities and differences. The most notable findings in the adolescent group was their indifference to smoking, whereas the community adults had strong negative perceptions of smoking. Moreover, the media was not felt to be a strong influence; however; adolescents thought it was somewhat of an influence. Tobacco use of peers was not determined to be a strong influence in the perceptions of either groups. The impact for positive social change is a better understanding among both adolescents and adults of the perceptions of adolescent smoking. This enhanced understanding indicates a need to denormalize smoking behavior to subsequently decrease the number of adult smokers and tobacco-related deaths.