Eliciting the smoker's agenda: implications for policy and practice

Soc Sci Med. 2003 Jan;56(1):83-94. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(02)00009-6.


Existing health promotion messages and advice on smoking cessation focus upon the negative aspects of continuing to smoke and contrast these to the benefits of giving up. Benefits of cessation are invariably linked to reduced risks of illness and disease with the process of cessation framed as a largely positive and certainly a health enhancing one. In this paper we present an analysis of data from a cross-sectional, exploratory study in the city of Aberdeen, Scotland, undertaken with 54 people, aged 18-44, who are or have been smokers. The multiple and often contradictory agendas of everyday life, smoking and health are explored. Participants spoke of the dangers of smoking and the potential benefits of giving up as these are considered by health promotion and medical research. However, many smokers experienced a number of benefits from smoking (such as socialising with others and breaks from boredom), and health and social problems with the process of cessation (for example, weight gain, stress, colds, flu). Participants appeared to query the validity of the risks of continuing to smoke and yet indicate a range of health and social difficulties in giving up. The authors assert that an acknowledgement of the attractive, pleasurable aspects of smoking may be seen as unacceptable and irresponsible but this could well provide an opportunity to relate to the everyday and multiple practices of smoking and smokers themselves as illuminated by this research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Family Practice
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Qualitative Research
  • Risk-Taking
  • Scotland
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Smoking Cessation*
  • Smoking Prevention*
  • Social Marketing*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires