Perceived risks and benefits of smoking: Differences among adolescents with different smoking experiences and intentions

Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA.
Preventive Medicine (Impact Factor: 2.93). 10/2004; 39(3):559-67. DOI: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2004.02.017
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Explanations of adolescent smoking often make reference to adolescents' beliefs that they are invulnerable to harm. However, empirical examination of whether adolescents do acknowledge risks. Further, few studies have considered perceived benefits in adolescents' behavioral decisions. This study examined perceived smoking-related physical and social risks and benefits between adolescents who have vs. have not smoked and do vs. do not intend to smoke.
Three hundred and ninety-five students (mean age = 14.0) completed a survey concerning their smoking experiences, intentions, and perceived risks and benefits of smoking.
Adolescent smokers and those who intend to smoke estimated their chance of experiencing a smoking-related negative outcome as less likely than did nonsmokers and non-intenders. Smokers and intenders also reported the chance of addiction as less likely than did others. In contrast, adolescent smokers and intenders perceived the chance of experiencing a smoking-related benefit as more likely than did nonsmokers and non-intenders.
The data suggest that rather than solely focusing on health risks as a way to deter adolescent smoking, the role of perceived social risks and benefits in adolescents' smoking may be an additional critical focus for intervention. In addition, efforts should be made to increase adolescents' awareness of the addictive nature of cigarettes.

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    • "As noted earlier, there is evidence that risk taking is influenced more by considerations of the benefits of engaging in the risky behavior rather than the drawbacks. However, because probability and importance were not measured separately in past studies (e.g., Benthin et al. 1993; Halpern-Felsher et al. 2004; Moore and Gullone 1996; Nickoletti and Taussig 2006; Parsons et al. 1997), competing explanations of why benefits seem to be carry more weight than drawbacks could not be disentangled. "
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    Synthese 12/2012; 189(1). DOI:10.1007/s11229-012-0110-2 · 0.64 Impact Factor
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    • "This has been explained by increases in sexual awareness and sensation seeking during that period (Bouchey & Furman, 2003; Breakwell & Millward, 1997; Zuckerman, 1979; Zuckerman, Ball & Black, 1990). Third, research on offline risks suggests that adolescents and adults differ in the perception of risks and benefits of risk behaviors (Goldberg, Halpern-Felsher & Millstein, 2002; Halpern-Felsher, Biehl, Kropp & Rubinstein, 2004). That is, adolescents may fail to perceive specific risks associated with a risky behavior and, at the same time, overestimate the benefits of such behaviors. "
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    Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 11/2010; DOI:10.1016/j.appdev.2010.07.005 · 1.85 Impact Factor
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    • "First, perceived benefits have been recognized as being of equal or greater importance than perceived risks in understanding risky behavior, including cigarette use (Benthin et al., 1993; Goldberg et al., 2002; Halpern-Felsher et al., 2004; Parsons et al., 1997; Prochaska et al., 1992; Prochaska and Velicer, 1992). Second, research has examined adolescents' perceptions of short-term outcomes of smoking (Gritz et al., 2003; Halpern-Felsher et al., 2004; Prokhorov et al., 2002), which may be of greater importance in determining behavior than potential long-term outcomes (Halpern-Felsher et al., 2007). Third, researchers have recognized the importance of both physiological processes (e.g., pleasurable rush or buzz, relaxation; Eissenberg and Balster, 2000; Pomerleau et al., 1998) and social processes (e.g., looking cool, having more friends; Epstein et al., 2000; Nichter et al., 2007; Rugkasa et al., 2001) in determining smoking behavior. "
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