Adults' accounts of onset of regular smoking: influences of school, work, and other settings

Public Health Rep. 1991 Mar-Apr;106(2):181-5.


A representative population sample of 546 adults in Victoria, Australia, who had ever smoked were asked to describe the general setting where they first took up regular smoking and who, if anyone, influenced them to begin. Although school was the dominant setting (35 percent), particularly for younger respondents 20-34 years (55 percent), the workplace was also an important setting for uptake of regular smoking. Overall, 34 percent reported taking up smoking while in a job. The probability of taking up smoking at work increased with age but, even among younger respondents, many did not begin smoking until they started work. Fourteen percent took it up between leaving school and commencing college or a university or their first job, and 22 percent of those who attended college or a university took up smoking in that setting. One-quarter of the sample said that nobody had influenced them to take up smoking, but most of the remainder indicated that either friends, family, or workmates had played a part. Most mentioned were good friends at school (20 percent), good friends known socially (14 percent), and good friends at work (7 percent). Others listed were family (7 percent), boy friend or girl friend (7 percent). Overall, 10 percent had taken up regular smoking under the influence of workmates at work, suggesting that smoke-free workplace policies might be useful in the long term in reducing the prevalence of smoking in the community.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Environment
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Social Conformity