What is it about?

Many youth experiencing homelessness smoke cigarettes, but few successfully quit. We found that youth return to smoking to manage negative emotions and stress from relationships, grief, and loss; housing and financial crises; and after experiencing violence.

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Why is it important?

To help youth quit smoking successfully, programs must address factors beyond nicotine addiction, including housing, financial stability, stress coping skills, and social support.


When organizations work with vulnerable populations, like youth who are homeless, there are so many pressing issues it's easy to presume that focusing on health behaviors like smoking, alcohol, or drug use is not a priority. Our research suggests that if we change the contexts of youths' lives by reducing driving stressors (like violence, housing, job, or food insecurity) and increasing stress coping skills, we may also help them sustain health-promoting behaviors, like quitting smoking. Thinking holistically about health promotion is critical when we're working with minoritized and vulnerable groups; we have to be creative and comprehensive in our solution-making.

Joanne Patterson
Ohio State University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Psychosocial factors influencing smoking relapse among youth experiencing homelessness: A qualitative study, PLoS ONE, July 2022, PLOS,
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0270665.
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