Aim: To enhance our knowledge on why adolescents with a chronic condition (insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, IDDM) choose to smoke despite possible awareness of health risks.
Methods: Twelve patients aged 15–20 with IDDM who smoked cigarettes volunteered to participate in qualitative interviews. The results were analyzed with content analysis according to Miles and Huberman 1994.
Results: One set confirmed what is earlier known on cigarette smoking among adolescents, such as plain exploring, needs to conform with group norms, identity needs and denial of risks. Other themes gave new insights. One was the emotional attitudes—or lack of emotions—expressed by important others, which exerted strong influences on the smoking trajectories. These emotions affected both initiation and motivation for quitting cigarette smoking and seemed crucial as means of meaningful communications concerning smoking. One theme was a flow path of cigarette smoking, which demonstrated opportunities for secondary prevention. Finally, developmental reasons for smoking and motivation for quitting could be described.
Conclusions: There are several windows of opportunities to lower the risk of adolescents with IDDM and other chronic conditions from becoming and remaining smokers, as reported by young people themselves.