Understanding Tobacco Marketing, Youth Sensation Seeking, and Smoking: Implications for Smoking Prevention Among Early Adolescents

By Lorraine D. Jackson and Natalie Beamer.

Published by The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Tobacco companies spend billions of dollars marketing their products to consumers, and millions of youth in the United States become smokers by high school. Understanding the factors associated with smoking initiation during early adolescence is necessary to inform and improve smoking prevention efforts.

Sensation seeking, or the drive for novel stimuli, is associated with health risk-taking. The middle school years are peak years for smoking experimentation and initiation. Yet, our literature review found few studies examining the combination of sensation seeking, smoking perceptions, and smoking experimentation in an ethnically diverse, predominantly Hispanic/Latino, early adolescent sample. The current study examines this group and explores the smoking attitudes, intentions, and behaviors of ninety-three 12-14 year olds. Of particular interest is whether sensation seeking tendencies are associated with smoking experimentation.

Results indicated that sensation seeking is positively correlated with the intention to try smoking, and with smoking behavior. High sensation seekers are at risk for smoking experimentation, and would likely benefit from more focused prevention efforts. Recommendations for community awareness and for designing smoking prevention approaches for youth are discussed.

Keywords: Health Communication, Sensation Seeking, Smoking Prevention, Tobacco Marketing, Hispanic/Latino Youth

The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp.33-48. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 835.522KB).

Dr. Lorraine D. Jackson

Professor, Communication Studies Department, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, San Luis Obispo, California, USA

Lorraine D. Jackson’s current research interests include health communication and communication technologies. She published “Health Communication Research: A Guide to Developments and Directions” (with B.K. Duffy). Her scholarly work appears in journals such as Health Communication, Journal of Health Communication, Women’s Studies in Communication, Communication Teacher, and Academic Exchange Quarterly, as well as several books. She is the recipient of grant awards from Cal Poly’s Center for Teaching and Learning for enhancing the Health Communication course with technology. She is listed in the 2008-2009 Marquis Who’s Who in American Women 50th anniversary edition and is a member of the Western States Communication Association, the American Association of University Women, and the National Communication Association.

Natalie Beamer

Certified Teacher, English Language Arts, Loudoun County Public Schools, Ashburn, Virginia, USA

Natalie E. Beamer received her M.A. from Chapman University in Orange, CA and her B.A. from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA. In addition, she has earned her credential to teach English Language Arts in both California and Virginia. For eight years, Beamer taught English Language Arts at Sycamore Junior High in the Anaheim Union High School District in CA. Her longevity in this district gave her the opportunity to work with a multi-ethnic and Latino population. Beamer now resides in Virginia and teaches 7th grade English Language Arts at Farmwell Station Middle School in Loudoun County.