Young people, tobacco and cannabis
: social and place-based complexities in co-consumption

  • Richard Eric Tyler

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Young people are considered to be a key market for the tobacco industry and are therefore vital targets for public health intervention. Current estimates in the UK suggest that more than 200,000 young people under the age of 16 try tobacco smoking each year. As tobacco and cannabis use share the common method of consumption through burning and inhaling smoke, the link between these two substance has drawn a growing focus from researchers. However little is known about the interplay of these two behaviours with specific gaps centring on the risk factors of co-consumption and an awareness of how young people’s own beliefs about cannabis and tobacco co-use drives these interconnected behaviours. There is also a particular absence of literature on place-based practices (e.g. contexts and locations of use) of cannabis and tobacco and how one substance may be used as a result of nuanced aspects of the other. Responding to these gaps, this thesis examines the complexity and inter-connected practices of tobacco and cannabis use among young people in two empirical studies. First, the prevalence of co-consumption is investigated via an online questionnaire with 4,499 11-16 year olds in 12 secondary schools. Second, in a complimentary study, in-depth interviews conducted with 51 adolescents aged 12-19 in two youth club settings explore narratives of use.

    Results illustrate that co-consumers may not report using tobacco in surveys unless they use tobacco specifically for cigarettes and that young people may rationalise cannabis use due to a lack of evidence indicating that cannabis is unsafe. Results also suggest that cannabis users may deliberately smoke tobacco cigarettes in order to conceal their cannabis use in public settings and this demonstrates the need for a focus on place-based practices alongside individual reasoning for co-use. The thesis extends a small body of research outside of the UK indicating that despite negative attitudes towards tobacco and an avoidance of acknowledging their own involvement with tobacco, young cannabis users may continue to use tobacco because it plays an important role in facilitating cannabis use.
    Date of AwardNov 2015
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Portsmouth
    SupervisorLiz Twigg (Supervisor) & Julia Brown (Supervisor)

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