Smoke Signals: Adolescent Smoking and School Continuation

The Evolution of Consumption: Theories and Practices

ISBN: 978-0-7623-1452-2, eISBN: 978-1-84950-509-3

ISSN: 1529-2134

Publication date: 19 July 2007


Smoking initiation by adolescents has been analyzed by economists as a choice reflecting prices, tastes, and subjective evaluation of the long-term risks of addiction and disease. What is missing from this account is the fact that smoking is a social activity and is subject to peer influence. Peers may serve as a source of information about why and how to smoke, and how to obtain cigarettes. Peers also serve as an audience, observing and evaluating others’ behavior. This evaluation is mediated by the long association in popular culture between smoking and a variety of attributes prized by adolescents. Like choice of fashion in hair and clothing, body piercing, comportment, and so forth, smoking by adolescents connotes information about identity. Knowing this, the decision of whether to smoke is partly a decision of what identity to project.


Cook, P.J. and Hutchinson, R. (2007), "Smoke Signals: Adolescent Smoking and School Continuation", Bianchi, M. (Ed.) The Evolution of Consumption: Theories and Practices (Advances in Austrian Economics, Vol. 10), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 157-186.

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