A Qualitative Exploration of Youth in the “New” China: Perspectives on Tobacco Use From Adolescents in Southwest China

Document Type



Community and Global Health (CGU)

Publication Date



Applied Behavior Analysis | Cognition and Perception | Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Gender and Sexuality | Public Health Education and Promotion | Substance Abuse and Addiction


School-based prevention programs are not common in China and the attempts to modify successful Western prevention programs have largely shown little effect. Distinct cultural and social systems differences could explain why modified programs have been unsuccessful. Smoking behavior is examined from the perspective of Chinese adolescents as part of the development of a large intervention trial. A total of 16 focus groups with 128 participants were conducted in Chengdu in Sichuan province of China. Impressions of adolescent smokers were mixed, most seeing the behavior as common among boys. Smokers were seen as being overwhelmed and stressed. Girls’ smoking was mostly seen as universally “bad” and reflecting poorly on a girl’s character. However, a small portion of focus group participants suggested that female smoking was fashionable and trendy. With social norms changing rapidly in the “new” China, understanding what the new generation of Chinese youth thinks about smoking is critical in determining how to address and tailor prevention efforts.

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© 2012 Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Health