Exploring why girls smoke in Malaysia--a qualitative approach

Asia Pac J Public Health 2008; 20 Suppl: 6-14


Al-Sadat N, Binns CW


The fast increase in the rate of uptake of smoking amongst adolescent girls in Malaysia is a public health concern. The objective of this study was to investigate factors that influenced the initiation of smoking and the effects of advertisement on consolidating the smoking habit among teenage girls in the urban city of Kuala Lumpur. Qualitative research was conducted using both interviews and focus group discussions with groups of adolescent girls. Data collected was analysed using grounded thematic theory methodology and validated using methodological triangulation. The reasons for initiating smoking elicited from the study can be grouped into 4 general themes; influence by peers, influence of seeing parents smoking, misguided belief that it could alleviate stress and finally that it would impress others. Smoking imageries in media and advertisements were not primary influencing factors in the initiation of smoking but it encouraged them to progress to become regulars. Ways should be sought to empower girls to feel more confident about resisting pressures to initiate smoking. This could be done through activities such as positive peer sports, education on how to alleviate stress and curbing of smoking imageries in the media.


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