Young Smokers Think Smoking Is ‘Cool’ But Fear The Future Impact On Their Appearance, UK

January 26, 2009 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

Young smokers say concern about the effects of smoking on their appearance is a good reason to quit smoking, but not until they see visible changes to their appearance. This is the finding of a study by Professor Sarah Grogan of the University of Staffordshire and colleagues Gary Fry, Brendan Gough and Mark Conner, published today (26th January 2009) in the British Journal of Health Psychology.

87 smokers and non-smokers aged 17-24 took part in the study, based on focus groups. The smokers discussed how smoking impacted negatively on physical appearance (skin, teeth, hair, and weight), and how they made sense of their smoking. The non-smokers also discussed a potential link between appearance and smoking, together with any appearance-related concerns that would discourage them from taking up the habit.

Male and female smokers were concerned about the impact of smoking on their appearance, but would quit only if skin ageing, wrinkling or other negative effects on appearance became noticeable. The young people did not consider themselves at immediate risk of such effects as they were thought to occur in older smokers only. Non-smokers expressed concern about the impact on skin and teeth if they started smoking.

Professor Grogan said: “Young adults have the highest rates of smoking in the UK; they are also likely to be concerned with their physical appearance. Emphasising the fact that skin damage caused by smoking may not be visible to the naked eye – but is still happening – might be an effective way to motivate young people to quit.”

The findings of this study will be used to inform anti-smoking campaigns targeted at young people.

“Our study suggests that campaigns that emphasise the negative effects that smoking can have on appearance are more likely to encourage young people to quit than those that focus on the impact of smoking on health,” Sarah concluded.

The British Psychological Society


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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