• tobacco;
  • adolescence;
  • qualitative;
  • identity


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