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Irish Child Health Database - Peer Reviewed Papers

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  • Smoking and symbolism: Children, communication and cigarettes

    Published in:

    Health Education Research, Vol: 16, Page: 131-142,Oxford Univ Press

    Publication Date:


    Aims & Objectives:

    This study describes children's smoking behaviour in terms of aspects of childhood agency


    Health promotion, with its concern with empowerment and autonomy, must recognize the agency of its target population. Based on 85 in-depth interviews with 10-11-yr-old children throughout Northern Ireland, this paper argues that it is necessary to focus on the social relations of children if we are to understand and prevent childhood smoking. Addressing the complex issue of childhood agency, it is argued that regardless of various restrictions to their choices, children can act intentionally in constructing their identities. Instead of viewing the smoking children as communicating with the adult world, we focus on smoking as negotiation of status within the children's culture. Such negotiations utilize symbolism derived from and shared with the "adult world." It is important that those analyzing children's lives understand children's ideas and behavior on their own terms. It is suggested that the metaphor "rite of passage" and terminology such as peer "pressure" versus adult "influence," commonly used to analyze the children's smoking behavior, may actually conceal important aspects of childhood agency. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2008 APA, all rights reserved)


    J. Rugkasa; O. Kennedy; M. Barton; P. S. Abaunza; M. P. Treacy; B. Knox

    Study Type:

    Study Papers » Qualitative Study » Qualitative Studies


    0268-1153 1465-3648 Accession Number: 2001-17128-002. First Author & Affiliation: Rugkåsa, J.; U Ulster, School of Biomedical Sciences, Northern Ireland Centre for Diet & Health, Coleraine, Northern Ireland. Other Journal Title: Health Education Research. Release Date: 20010530. Publication Type: Journal, (0100) Peer Reviewed Journal, (0110). Media Covered: Print. Media Available: Electronic; Print. Document Type: Journal Article. Language: English. Conference Information: European Sociological Association conference. Conference Note: An earlier version of this article was presented at the aforementioned conference. Major Descriptor: Child Attitudes; Peer Pressure; Social Acceptance; Sociocultural Factors; Tobacco Smoking. Minor Descriptor: Health Promotion. Classification: Psychosocial & Personality Development (2840) . Population: Human (10) . Location: Northern Ireland. Age Group: Childhood (birth-12 yrs) (100) School Age (6-12 yrs) (180) . Methodology: Empirical Study. References Available: Y.


    children's smoking behaviour

    International Classification:

    Drugs - smoking



    Northern Ireland (Northern Ireland)