Published Papers - Abstract 219

McDermott LJ, Dobson AJ & Owen N. From partying to parenthood: Young women's perceptions of cigarette smoking across life transitions. Health Education Research, 2006; 21(3): 428-439

This study explored influences on adoption, maintenance and cessation of smoking among young women as they experienced life transitions: leaving home, gaining employment or attending college/university, marriage and parenthood. Standardized, open-ended telephone interviews were conducted with 80 women (including never smokers, continuing smokers, recent adopters and quitters) aged 24-29 years, recruited from participants in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health. The social context of smoking (socialising with other smokers, drinking alcohol and going to pubs and clubs) was perceived to be a predominant influence on smoking from the time young women left home until they settled into a committed relationship or started their own family. Stress was identified as an important factor as they experienced lifestyle changes. An increased sensitivity to the negative aspects of smoking after turning 21 was reported, and around the mid-20s the women became concerned about addictive nature of cigarettes. Motherhood was seen to carry increased responsibilities to protect children from passive smoking and there was a perceived importance of positive role modelling to protect children from becoming smokers themselves. This study highlights the need for public health campaigns to address the social role that smoking plays in young women’s lives, and the perceived use of cigarettes for stress relief. Life changes such as settling down with a partner and the contemplations of motherhood provide opportunities for targeted interventions to promote quitting.

Open Access Article