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Why do they start and why don’t they quit: A qualitative study to explore risk and protective factors for tobacco use in youth

Cigarette smoking continues to be a leading cause of preventable death around the world. It is estimated that about 15% of all deaths worldwide are attributed to smoking. Here, in Singapore, the smoking rates have risen in recent years, despite regulations and campaigns aimed at prevention of smoking. Most people who smoke have started doing so in their youth.  Previous research has found that individuals who begin smoking during adolescence ultimately maintain higher levels of tobacco use and are far less likely to quit. Most of these chronic smokers would develop a range of smoking-related health diseases later in their lives. Preventing and stopping smoking among adolescents is therefore an important public health issue. A proper understanding of the different ways that lead to smoking is essential for any strategy or intervention to prevent or stop smoking in this young population.

IMH Research Division will be conducting research using focus group discussions to explore the issue of smoking among youths. We aim to recruit 150 youths (aged 14-29 years) and 120 parents of youths. Through the focus groups we aim to:

  1. Gain an in-depth understanding of the youths’ and parents’ perceptions regarding smoking
  2. Identify risk factors for youth smoking
  3. Assess the extent of awareness of current smoking prevention programmes in schools and communities
  4. Examine perceptions, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours that lessen the risk of smoking among youths

This two-year study is funded by the National Healthcare Group Small Innovative Grant

Principal Investigator

  • Asst. Prof. Mythily Subramaniam, Institute of Mental Health


  • Ms Janhavi Vaingankar, Institute of Mental Health
  • Ms Louisa Picco, Institute of Mental Health
A member of National Healthcare Group ISO   Comm Chest Award Bronze