Date of Award

Fall 1983

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


The purpose of the study was to explore, through in-depth unstructured interviews, the factors preventing experimentation with cigarettes and the factors related to cigarette smoking. Hypotheses generation, as opposed to hypothesis testing, was the goal. Forty-seven men and women between the ages of 18 and 48 with diverse smoking (or nonsmoking) histories and current smoking patterns and attitudes were interviewed.

The results are organized around the four stages in a smoker's career. Numerous quotes from the interviews and five illustrative cases are presented to exemplify the patterns that emerged.

A number of hypotheses specific to each stage of smoking were generated as was a process model for the development of smoking patterns. The model proposes that physical tolerance for cigarettes determines smoking rate and smoking rate, initiation environment, and dominant affective states determine eventual smoking patterns.

Among the findings were the following: Transition to regular smoking was delayed by the restrictions on teenage smoking. Removal of restriction resulted in an increase in consumption rate, perception of personal as well as social motives for smoking, and the development of a smoker identity. The main factors in smoking maintenance were physical dependence and beliefs about the consequences of smoking cessation.

Twenty-five percent of the smokers had maintained abstinence from one to five years before relapse. Relapse was most common for the long-term regular smokers. Permanent abstinence was associated with cessation at a young age and cessation before marriage to a nonsmoker.

It was suggested that in order to more accurately estimate the number of long-term dependent smokers who cease smoking and maintain abstinence, length of smoking history, smoking rate prior to cessation, and years of abstinence must be obtained and correlated. In-depth interviews may be necessary to establish the smoking history and current smoking status of a substantial number of individuals.