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Keywords:

  • tobacco;
  • adolescence;
  • qualitative;
  • identity

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to understand the identities that youth hold in relation to smoking, as revealed in narrative accounts of their smoking experiences. The analysis was a narrative inquiry, a qualitative approach based on the propensity of people to narrate or tell stories about the experiences in their daily lives. A purposeful sample of 35 youths ages 14–18 years with a variety of smoking histories (all had tried smoking) participated in in-depth interviews. A detailed analysis of the transcripts revealed the key identities communicated by the youths including the confident nonsmoker, the vulnerable nonsmoker, the ardent nonsmoker, the accepting nonsmoker, the in-control smoker, the confirmed smoker, and the contrite smoker. Tobacco control interventions for youth must be designed to respond to and incorporate multiple smoking identities. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Res Nurs Health 26:387–397, 2003