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Role of smoking in adolescent social life and identities

Principal Investigators

  • Dr EW Plumridge,
  • Ms L Fitzgerald

Supported by CMRF


The research question focuses on the reasons for accelerating rates of smoking among New Zealand adolescents, c. 1990- 2000. Current research being undertaken by the applicants indicates the lack of importance of smoking as a health issue among adolescent smokers. Rather it takes its importance from the social 'uses' to which it can be put, and as a marker of 'identity style'. These will be explored in more detail and with an historical dimension to provide insight into reasons for accelerating rates of smoking in the recent past.

Importance & Priority

The principal investigator is attempting to sponsor in a collegiate fashion, the career of an emerging sociologist transferring to the area of public health but who is not yet in a position to be a grant holder under University of Otago arrangements.

The project seeks to maximise the returns from Canterbury based research by building on current HRC funded projects unique to Canterbury but with wider applications.

Although the project is not conceptualised as a pilot study, it will seed larger, longer term projects for which other funding will be sought.


The project is an indepth, qualitative study of up to 40 males and females who started smoking before the age of 16, c. 1990, and up to 40 males and females who started smoking before the age of 16, c. 2000. Data will be subject to discourse analysis and ethnographic style analysis to identify:

  • the (changing) role of smoking in the social lives of adolescent smokers, c.1990-2000.
  • the (changing) role of smoking in personal 'identity styles' of adolescent smokers, c. 1990-2000.