Young Cypriots' perspectives of the symbolic values of smoking

Soula Ioannou, Jo Pike

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reports the findings of a study that explores the perspectives of 25 young Cypriots regarding the symbolic values of smoking with respect to their everyday lived experiences. This study was motivated by recognising the high levels of smoking prevalence among adolescents in Cyprus and the absence of published research 'recording' their own versions of reality about smoking. Data for the study were generated from one-to-one qualitative interviews which encouraged the participants to articulate the symbolic value of smoking in their day-to-day experiences. The analysis focuses first, on the content of the embedded symbolic values of smoking (e.g. the quality of being 'cool') and second on the role of these values (e.g. used in projecting an image) in their everyday lives. A central finding is that the symbolic values of smoking amount to a vital resource, through which young people play with their self- and lifestyle images, communicate and interact with peers. This article highlights the enhanced utility of understanding smoking in ways which depart from monodirectional and judgemental approaches within health promotion efforts and concentrate on spoken voices and lived experiences. It strongly suggests the need to provide young people with opportunities to become aware of and critical about the symbolic value of smoking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-384
Number of pages12
JournalCritical Public Health
Issue number3
Early online date25 Aug 2010
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2010
Externally publishedYes


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