The act of smoking has been the object of extensive research, especially since the 1950s. It remains difficult, however, to know the historical influences that prompted the early use of tobacco. It is known that smoking developed social significance through tribal ceremonies and customs of the indigenous populations of North America. As industrial societies became established, mass production and corporate marketing took advantage of the stimulative and addictive properties of nicotine. The use of tobacco also took on a new social meanings as it was marketed to fulfill psychosocial needs such as a attaining independence or being part of a "cool" trend. The result was widespread and frequent usage, particularly through the smoking of cigarettes. High consumption has since produced devastating health effects. Although early opponents had to rely primarily on moral and emotional persuasion, epidemiological evidence of tobacco's impact on morbidity and mortality now provides the principal impetus to develop policies to prevent smoking.
The abundance of information that now exists on smoking necessitates the use of various frameworks, theories, and models in order to achieve a comprehensive and coherent perspective. A frame work, such as PRECEDE-PROCEED, helps depict the broad context of smoking and encourages the analysis of a comprehensive range of variables; a theoretical approach facilitates explanations as well as predictions; and modeling enhances visual representation or mathematical relations. Most of the major public health models and theories have been applied to smoking, and the literature contains support for many of these theories. This is partly due to the generality of the theoretical concepts.
Figure 1 is a graph of the prevalence of smoking across age groups in Canada. This graph shows that daily smoking largely begins and expands during the teenage years, and then peaks among young adults before decreasing. The behavior follows a sequence of experimentation, initiation, maintenance, and cessation. While the major behavioral change occurs during the teenage years, many of the predisposing factors develop at an earlier age. Beliefs, attitudes, and values begin to develop very early in life, and these influence later behavioral patterns.
RONALD A. DOVELL, The Gale Group Inc., Macmillan Reference USA, New York,