Key external influences on smoking initiation by Indian youth
Rates of smoking behaviour have declined in recent decades in many western countries, as the severe negative consequences of smoking to health become known to the public. However, youth show the lowest rates of decline in smoking behaviour. The aim of this study was to identify the key external influences on smoking initiation by youth, to be able to identify what motivates youth to initiate smoking, even if they are aware of the health problems smoking causes. Previous research shows that smoking is not typically a self-motivated behaviour (Capella, Taylor, & Webster, 2008). External influences on the imitation of smoking likely include peers, family, social class and culture (Neal, Quester, & Hawkins, 2006). This study examines one cultural group, Indian and Indo Fijian youth in New Zealand. New Zealand is a multicultural country and migration from India and Fiji, where smoking consumption is high, has been increasing (Ministry of Social Development, 2017). A qualitative study was undertaken to address the research aim. Five young New Zealanders of Indian ethnicity, who are current or ex-smokers, were interviewed at length regarding their life experiences that lead them to become smokers, and often, to cease from smoking. In addition, two young New Zealanders of alternative ethnicities were also interviewed, as a comparison group. In each case, the narrative inquiry was employed. Five themes emerged from the experiences of the young people interviewed; first, there was exposure to smoking early in life in the form of people smoking around them, and media exposure. Second, the first experience with cigarettes smoking wasn't the same as the initiation of smoking behaviour; the first smoking experience was prompted by peer pressure and curiosity. Third, in India and Fiji, barriers to smoking behaviour are lacking and there are ways to avoid specific barriers in place in New Zealand. Fourth, smoking is used as a socialisation tool, with the purpose of meeting like-minded people, bonding and developing friendships. The last theme was of quitting the smoking behaviour as the young people spoke of their attempts and processes of quitting. A conceptual model is formed through these findings showing the progression of smoking behaviour over the young life-course. The model begins with exposure to smoking in early life; peer pressure and curiosity being the motivation behind the first experience; and the lack of barriers to smoking. The model portrays the lifestyle adopted with the uptake of smoking behaviour, with enhanced peer influence from smoking initiation to smoking behaviour, becoming a habit and a part of daily lives. The model shows that this behaviour ends with some young people quitting smoking.