This paper reports the findings of the first study which has investigated young people's perceptions of non-advertising smoking images in youth magazines. A self-completion questionnaire was administered to a total of 897 people from three age groups (12-13, 15-16 and 18-19 years). Respondents rated perfectly matched (other than the presence/absence of a cigarette) smoking and non-smoking pictures taken from youth and style magazines on a range of attributes. They also rated their self, ideal and socially desirable images on the same attributes. It was found that the presence of a cigarette affected how the pictures were rated and that the nature of this effect differed between pictures. In general, smoking images were rated as being more druggy, wild and depressed, In contrast the matched non-smoking images were rated as being more healthy, rich, nice, fashionable, slim and attractive. Smokers and non-smokers differentially rated themselves in the same way that they differentiated between smokers and non-smokers in the photographs. It is argued that these magazine images of smoking may be acting to reinforce smoking among young people.
- social image
- young people