[Skip to Content]
Access to paid content on this site is currently suspended due to excessive activity being detected from your IP address 54.161.168.87. Please contact the publisher to request reinstatement.
[Skip to Content Landing]
Article
June 26, 1987

Is the Smoking Decision an 'Informed Choice'?Effect of Smoking Risk Factors on Smoking Beliefs

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin, Madison (Dr Leventhal); and the Department of Behavioral Medicine, Mount Sinai Medical Center, Milwaukee (Drs Glynn and Fleming).

From the Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin, Madison (Dr Leventhal); and the Department of Behavioral Medicine, Mount Sinai Medical Center, Milwaukee (Drs Glynn and Fleming).

JAMA. 1987;257(24):3373-3376. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390240079027
Abstract

The argument that people freely choose to smoke assumes that individuals at the point of initiation of smoking (often in adolescence) hold accurate beliefs about smoking. Smoking beliefs and the presence of known smoking risk factors were assessed in interviews with a sample of 895 urban young people. The respondents greatly overestimated the prevalence of adult and peer smoking, negative attitudes of their peers were greatly underestimated, a large proportion believed that they would be less likely than other people to contract a smoking-related illness if they became smokers, and there was a general lack of understanding of the adverse consequences experienced upon smoking cessation. These misperceptions were more common among youngsters who were smokers, who intended to smoke, or who had friends or family members who smoked. Because misinformation among young people is widespread and those at greatest risk for smoking are the most misinformed, the tobacco industry's argument that the decision to smoke reflects an "informed choice" is without merit.

(JAMA 1987;257:3373-3376)

×