One of the most widely recognized issues today that is killing people, all over the world, is smoking. Tobacco use is a worldwide epidemic among young people. Things such as pro-tobacco media and family influences are causing an increase in young smokers aged 14-17 in the Pacific islands. It represents a serious health danger to the youth especially in Pacific islands like Fiji and Samoa. Waqa, McCool, Snowdon, and Freeman article states that Up to 71%of young people had tried a cigarette before the age of 14 years….and 12% used tobacco frequently (one or more days in past week) (2014, p1). These statistics show the high number of teenagers who have experimented with tobacco in the Pacific Islands. Now what is the cause of such a large number of youths smoking tobacco? This report will be discussing the hypothesis that the media and family is the reason for youths aged 14-17 to be smoking tobacco in Fiji and Samoa.
Pacific Island youths decision to smoke tobacco is influenced by family and the media.
Both Waqa et al (2015) and McCool et al (2014) interviewed a sample size of 30 students from different secondary schools, however, this is not a very large sample size especially when their research is being used to represent the majority of youths in Fiji and Samoa. Waqa et al (2015) used a sample of teenagers from one high school aged 14-17, while McCool et al (2014) used teenagers aged only 16-17 from two high schools. This demonstrates that Waqa et al (2015) sample represented both young and older teenagers who have experimented with tobacco, while McCool et al (2014) sample only represent the older side of teenagers who have utilized tobacco in the Pacific Islands. This demonstrates that the sample utilized by Waqa was not large enough or from a variety of backgrounds to give an adequate amount of evidence and opinions for his argument as the individuals for his research were from the one region which the high school was located in. This meant that the research was not representing the outer regions of the island. On the other hand, McCool utilized two secondary schools from two separate regions which give a larger representation of opinions as well as a larger variety of backgrounds on youths’ tobacco use. McCool et al (2014), did in-depth interviews with 30 youths. They were selected from a single class mixed gender, ethnicity and socio-economic secondary school. Waqa et al (2015) also did interviews with 30 students during school hours which lasted 30-50 minutes. Waqa et al (2015), utilizing just one secondary school, even with mixed genders would not give a sufficient variety of perspective and opinions on smoking in the Pacific Islands. Due to all of the youths being from the same school, this would cause a sample with similar upbringings, beliefs as well as the same socio-economic backgrounds. The students were requested to talk about their perspectives tobacco use, media consumption, patterns and preferences and awareness of pro and anti-tobacco media. The interviews included discussions which revealed that the students were aware of the dangers of tobacco and the negative effects it has. They knew the consequences of tobacco, however, they still considered it to be acceptable for grown-ups to utilize and for it to be utilized for family businesses as well as stress reducers.
Within the Pacific Island communities, smoking is used for various reasons as resulted by Waqa. Between the families, tobacco is appeared to be commonly utilized stress relief, social aspects as well as income. Waqa’s results demonstrate that the youth were not aware of tobacco-related imagery shown on television, the negative side effects of tobacco or the message that was being conveyed. This reveals that the media’s imagery was not affecting the youth’s choice to utilize tobacco, instead, it was indicating that the influence was actually through friends and family. McCool’s results likewise demonstrated that tobacco as an incredible source of income for a lot of families in the Pacific Islands which is why numerous families livelihood’s depended on selling tobacco. McCool et al (2014) results revealed that youth who did not smoke before chose to smoke now due to the influence of family. “Non-smoking participants reported that they modelled their behaviour on family expectations” (McCool et al, 2014, p.4.). McCool’s article reveals the little concern families have for the consequences of using tobacco as the money and income for the family businesses is much more important. According to Waqa, “Despite concerns about the health effects of tobacco use, smoking was widely accepted as a means of reducing stress, most often stress from work……Others spoke of the problem of “overusing” tobacco, suggesting a perception of a safe level or threshold of danger in tobacco use. In addition, it was evident that tobacco use was considered to have a positive social or mental health effect among adults, primarily as a leisure and stress-relief activity” (Waqa et al, 2015, p.3). Due to parents utilizing tobacco for stress relief, teenagers are affected as it makes them want to use it as well, despite health-related consequences. According to the article by McCool, Freeman, and Tanielu (2014), this huge occurrence of tobacco use among youth has caused an increase in non-communicable diseases (NCD). McCool et al (2014) results also reveal that the media does not really have a large effect on youth’s utilization of tobacco and that individuals do not care about tobacco-related advertising or media. Both research results from each author demonstrate that tobacco is utilized for cash, is utilized broadly throughout the community and that the general population or teenagers are concerned about its consequences. They likewise found that the media did not have any influence on them, but it was family that was a greater influence on youth to utilize tobacco. “In order to develop effective and culturally relevant tobacco control policies, the public health community must consider social norms around tobacco use… (McCool et al, 2014, p.1). While Waqa concludes that, “Despite the fact that the recently introduced graphic health warnings were generally well received, more can be done to extend the use of media for tobacco control benefits in Fiji” (Waqa et al, 2015, p.1)
Pacific Island youths decision to smoke tobacco is influenced by family and the media. Both of Waqa et al and McCool et al’s articles agreed and disagreed with my hypothesis. They both agreed on family being the major influence for youth to smoke tobacco, however, they disagreed with media also being a cause.
In my hypothesis, family was an influence for youth aged 14-17 to experiment with tobacco in the Pacific Islands. There was evidence found in both articles which proved it to be true.
“Smoking was viewed as an acceptable adult choice and on that reduces stress levels among older members of the family”, (Waqa et al, 2015, p.5). This quote by Waqa reveals that smoking tobacco was seen as a normal thing within the family. It was something that the adults, as well as the teens, did to reduce stress, not thinking about the consequences that it can cause. Within the article by Waqa, tobacco is also shown to be used positively especially within families as it is very beneficial economically for the adults and teenagers. “The sale of tobacco is perceived to have direct economic benefits for Fijian communities despite the well-established detrimental health effects”, (Waqa et al, 2015, p.5). Mixed messages of media portraying tobacco was shown in Waqa’s discussion. The media does not appear to influence the youths choices on tobacco use as much as their families and friends do. Families especially parents utilizing tobacco and selling it for money greatly impacts the teenagers’ choice and perspectives on smoking tobacco, compared to the media or advertising. Waqa’s article demonstrates the utilization of tobacco being used prominently for socializing and relaxation. This shows tobacco in a positive light to the youth of the Pacific Islands. McCool’s articles also state that “family and peers were the primary determinant of smoking uptake among young people in Samoa”, (McCool et al, 2014, p.4). This reveals that family was the larger influence on the youth to smoke tobacco and not the media. Not only that but the youths living in the Pacific Islands tend to copy their parents/ elder members, so the decision to smoke tobacco is influenced on whether their parents/elder members smoke or not, “non-smoking participants reported that they modelled their behaviour on family expectations”, (McCool et al, 2014, p.4). In McCool’s discussion, tobacco use among young people indicates it being utilized as a core income for families inside the Pacific Islands. This perspective would influence the youth as tobacco is helping their families to get money, which gives the impression that tobacco cannot be that bad. McCool el al’s (2014) view on the media having less impact on tobacco for the youth aged 14-17 is the same as Waqa el al’s (2015). Within this article, it is shown that friends and family have a larger impact and influence on teenagers smoking in the present as well as the future.
In conclusion, both articles by McCool and Waqa agreed and disagreed with my hypothesis. My hypothesis predicted that Pacific Island youths decision to smoke tobacco would be influenced by family and the media. However, parents, family, friends as well as peers were the main cause for tobacco use among the youth. The results of both articles proved my hypothesis of media being an influence wrong. It showed that the main drive for tobacco use among youths aged 14-17 in the Pacific Islands was mainly family and friends.
My recommendations for future research/action are to use a much larger and diverse sample of youth to interview. This will allow a variety of beliefs and opinions on the issue/topic which will give sufficient information for the research. As well as that, I would also recommend trying to find information from various different economic classes as well as socio-economic backgrounds in the Pacific Islands as it will also help get a larger variety of information that may have diverse outcomes in various socio-economic settings in the Pacific islands.
McCool, J, Freeman, B, Tanielu, H (2014) Perceived social and media influences on tobacco use among Samoan youth. 1-8. Retrieved from www.bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2458-14-1100
Waqa, G, McCool, J, Snowdon, W, Freeman, B (2015) Adolescents perceptions of pro-and anti-tobacco imagery and marketing: qualitative study of students from Suva, Fiji. 1-7. Retrieved from www.dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/602635