Exploring young people's perceptions of smoking images in youth magazines

D Gray, A Amos, Candace Evelyn Currie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Although research has shown that cigarette advertising can influence smoking among young people, no studies have looked at young people's perceptions of other media images of smoking, This paper describes how focus groups were used to explore the way young people in two age groups (12-13 and 15-16 years) interpreted fashion photographs from youth magazines which contained smoking images, their perceptions of smoking and non-smoking imagery, and their views on smoking, It appears that the interpretative process consisted of relating a representation of the image to the content of the photo and comparing the congruence of this representation with the participant's model of reality, Most references to the presence of a cigarette were negative or neutral, with the perceived congruence of the cigarette within the portrayed image varying between photographs. Differences were detected between the age groups in the way they interpreted the pictures and in their perceptions of smoking, The 12-13 year olds were characterized by concrete thought and interpretation which produced very anti-smoking accounts, painting a picture of a cultural role for smoking in their lives which they found intimidating, The older teenagers employed a more abstract interpretative process which reflected smoking in a more ambivalent light, The possible effect of these media images on young people's smoking behaviour is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-230
Number of pages16
JournalHealth Education Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1996




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