Home > Essay Examples > Social Influence on Teenagers Smoking
Updated:

Social Influence on Teenagers Smoking

Words: 1163
Paper Type: Essay
Subject: Sociology

The Problem

Smoking among teenagers is health as well as a social issue that is affecting a significant number of teenagers. An increasing number of teenagers in the United States are posing serious challenges to the health care system and the education system.

According to a study, teenagers who smoke experience health and social problems such as “risk-taking behavior, low levels of physical activity, psychosocial problems, and depression” (Holmen, Barrett-Connor, Holmen, & Bjermer, 2000, p. 148). Such problems associated with smoking among teenagers affect their development and consequently their lives.

As a social issue, smoking leads to addiction and contribute to psychosocial problems such as drug abuse, prostitution, crime, and poverty. Moreover, smoking is a health issue because “the long term health consequences of smoking include cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and pulmonary diseases” (Holmen, Barrett-Connor, Holmen, & Bjermer, 2000, p. 148).

These health consequences indicate that smoking destroys the lives of many teenagers if appropriate interventions are not put in place. Thus, this survey seeks to find if peer pressure and social environment contribute to the increasing cases of smoking among teenagers.

The Hypothesis

Given that smoking is a health as well as a social issue among teenagers, the study hypothesizes that peer pressure among teenagers and social environment are significant factors that contribute to increasing cases of smoking among teenagers. Peer pressure is a powerful social factor that influences the behavior of teenagers. Basing on the social learning theory, teenagers acquire certain habits by observing and adopting behaviors that their peers practice.

In this view, when teenagers observe their peers smoking, they tend to adopt this behavior because they perceive it as an appropriate practice.

According to Michell and West (1996), “children who smoke cause their non-smoking peers to take up the habit through strategies such as coercion, teasing, bullying, and rejection from a desired group” (p. 39). Smoking teenagers influence their peers because they portray smoking as a favorable and enjoyable leisure activity, thus enticing many to indulge in smoking.

Moreover, social environment where children grow up determines their smoking habits. The social cognitive theory postulates that human behavior is a product of social interaction among cognitive, behavioral, and environmental factors that surround an individual. In this case, smoking is dependent on behavior, cognitive, and social environment of teenagers.

If teenagers grow in an environment where smoking is a common habit, they tend to adopt smoking habits. In contrast, if teenagers grow in an environment where smoking is an unusual habit, they do not adopt it. The social environment usually influences the youth to smoke because it presents smoking as a cool, sexy, and civilized lifestyle, which appeals to many teenagers (Michell & West, 1996).

Hence, the positive image that social environment presents about smoking causes teenagers to smoke. On this basis, the survey hypothesizes that peer pressure among teenagers and social environment are significant factors that contribute to increasing cases of smoking among teenagers.

The Questionnaire

The purpose of the questionnaire is to collect information about the smoking habits of teenagers with a view of understanding how peers and social environment contribute to smoking behavior among teenagers.

The survey requests your informed consent to participate in the study and further guarantees the confidentiality of the information that participants provide. Thus, students should feel free to provide information about their smoking habits and experiences because no part of the information will be used in other uses that constitute to the victimization of students.

Therefore, to provide your response to the questionnaire, please tick appropriate answers or required information in the following questions.

  1. What is your gender?
  2. What made you to smoke?
  1. Who taught you how to smoke?
  1. How did you learn how to smoke?
  1. Where did you learn how to smoke?
  1. Do you enjoy smoking?
  1. How often do you smoke?
  1. Are you addicted to smoking?
  1. Do you suffer from any condition due to smoke?
  1. Has anyone recommended for your rehabilitation?

Sampling of Teenagers

The survey utilized purposive sampling technique in selecting teenagers who have smoking experience to participate in the survey. To enhance external validity of the study, the survey selected 100 participants from the population of students who consented to take part in the survey by filling the appropriate information in the questionnaires.

Data Analysis

  1. What is your gender?
  • Male 62/100 = 62%
  • Female 38/100 = 38%
  1. What made you to smoke?
  • Tobacco advert 36/100 = 36%
  • Taste of smoke 24/100 = 52%
  • Curiosity 40/100 = 40%
  1. Who taught you how to smoke?
  • Brother 22/100 = 22%
  • Sister 3/100 = 3%
  • Mom 0/100 = 0%
  • Dad 5/100 = 5%
  • Classmate 55/100 = 55%
  • Stranger 15/100 = 15%
  1. How did you learn how to smoke?
  • Choice 52/100 = 52%
  • Force 48/100 = 48%
  1. Where did you learn how to smoke?
  • Home 28/100 = 18%
  • School 72/100 = 42%
  • Neighborhood 35/100 = 35%
  • Friend’s place 5/100 = 5%
  1. Do you enjoy smoking?
  • Yes 63/100 = 60%
  • No 37/100 = 37%
  1. How often do you smoke?
  • Rarely 12/100 = 12%
  • Daily 48/100 = 38%
  • Frequently 36/100 = 36%
  • Hourly 12/100 = 12%
  1. Are you addicted to smoking?
  • Yes 75/100 = 75%
  • No 25/100 = 25%
  1. Do you suffer from any condition due to smoke?
  • Yes 22/100 = 22%
  • No 78/100 = 78%
  1. Has anyone recommended for your rehabilitation?
  • Yes 33/100 = 33%
  • No 67/100 = 67%

The data analysis shows that classmates, siblings, and strangers taught the participants how to smoke. These findings agree with social learning theory that peers have significant influence on teenagers because they comprise a social force that dictates human behavior.

Moreover, the findings confirm that social environment plays a central role in defining smoking behavior of teenagers because home, school, and neighborhood are social environments where the participants learn how to smoke. In relation to social cognitive theory, home, school, and neighborhood provide environments where social interactions take place leading to changes in human behavior.

Conclusion

The findings of the survey confirm the hypothesis that peer pressure among teenagers and social environment are significant factors that contribute to increasing cases of smoking among teenagers. Peer pressure and social environment influence teenagers because social learning theory asserts that people learn by observing and adopting behaviors of others.

Moreover, social cognitive theory states that interaction of people in a given environment determines behavior change. Therefore, to reduce increasing cases of smoking among youth, health promotion should focus on changing peer influence and creating social environments that do not favor smoking.

References

Holmen, T., Barrett-Connor, E., Holmen, J., & Bjermer, L. (2000). Health Problems in Teenage Daily Smokers versus Nonsmokers, Norway, 1995-1997. American Journal of Epidemiology, 151(2), 148-155.

Michell, L., & West, P. (1996). Peer pressure to smoke: the meaning depends on the method. Health Education Research, 11(1), 39-49.