Category Archives: MWF 10 AM

Tentative Main Claim

Alright so my research question is “why do people start smoking?”  I found a lot of sources about why people smoke and what causes them to start and came up with my claim:

People start smoking for a variety of reasons, including psychological and societal factors, but ultimately the reason why a specific person starts smoking differs depending on the life experience of that person, but these factors can help predict why.

Source Notes #3

Lee, J., Henriksen, L., Rose, S., Moreland-Russell, S., Ribisl, K.. (2015). A Systemic Review of Neighborhood Disparities in Point-of-Sale Tobacco Marketing. American Journal of Public Health, 105(9), e8-e18. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2015.302777

The authors of this article looked at many different papers already written to try and find disparities in the areas where tobacco is sold.  They looked at sociodemographic neighborhood characteristics to and sales reports to see where most tobacco products are marketed and sold.  The results they found where that poorer and predominantly black neighborhoods are the areas where tobacco products are most commonly marketed and therefore sold.  I liked this source for my paper because it highlights some of the areas where people are most affected by tobacco marketing.  This could indicate why some people start smoking, it may have more to do with what they see in their everyday lives and what seems to be socially acceptable to them.  “. . . it is clear from industry documents that the tobacco industry has calibrated its marketing to target specific demographic groups defined by race, ethnicity, income, mental health status, gender, and sexual orientation. Framed as an issue of social and environmental justice, research has documented historical racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in the presence of tobacco billboards, racial disparities in total tobacco marketing volume, and targeting of menthol cigarettes to communities with more Black residents.”

Filippidis, F. T., Agaku, I. T., Vardavas, C. I.. (2015). The Association Between Peer, Parental influence and Tobacco Product Features and Earlier Age of Onset of Regular Smoking Among Adults in 27 European Countries. European Journal of Public Health, 814-818. doi:

The authors of this article interviewed many people who have or do smoke under the age of 40 from 27 European countries and asked them specific questions to find out what influenced them to start smoking.  One of the biggest discoveries that they made was that most of the people interviewed began smoking before thy turned 18.  “Respondents reported their age at regular smoking onset and factors that influenced their decision to start smoking, including peer influence, parental influence and features of tobacco products. Multi-variable logistic regression, adjusted for age; geographic region; education; difficulty to pay bills; and gender, was used to assess the role of the various pro-tobacco influences on early onset of regular smoking (i.e. <18 years).” The mean age that people started smoking was 16.6 years of age in these European countries.  What I can take from this is that there is a variety of factors that can influence people to start smoking, and start young.  The questions asked were too many to list here but there were three categories of influences: peer-influence, parental influence, and tobacco product features.

Doran, N., Trim, R. S.. (2015). Correlates of other Tobacco Use in a Community Sample of Young Adults. Addictive Behaviors, 51, 131-135. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2015.07.023

The authors of this article surveyed a sample of 319 young adults who had to have used a tobacco product and consumed alcohol in the last month to find which demographics are more likely to use tobacco products other than cigarettes.  Users tended to be Caucasian and young.  Tobacco use seems to also be connected to impulsivity and alcohol consumption.  I had read in other articles I plan to use as sources that impulsivity is a big factor when it comes to younger people using tobacco products, including cigarettes.  This is another source that highlights the correlation between impulsivity at a young age and smoking, but it also points out that tobacco use and alcohol use could be related as well.  “Factors that have been associated with young adult ANTP use include impulsivity, other substance use, cigarette use, male sex, family tobacco use, and White ethnicity.”

Cheetham, A., Allen, N. B., Schwartz, O., Simmons, J. G., Whittle, S., Byrne, M. L., . . . Lubman, D.I.. Affective Behavior and Temperament Predict the Onset of Smoking in Adolescence. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. doi:

180 adolescents were surveyed multiple times between the ages of 12 and 17 to discover if and when they started smoking as well as what factors led to that decision.  Children that start smoking tend to be more aggressive and less positive, the study claims.  These youth were also found to have “lower levels of self-reported temperamental Effortful Control.”  This article was helpful to me because it highlighted some of the psychological factors that can lead to smoking, especially at an early age.  This source cites a lot of works by other authors in the field and is very scientific in nature.

Next 4 Sources

Sutfin, E.L., Sparks, A., Pockey, J. R., Suerken, C.K., Reboussin, B. A., Wagoner, K. G., . . . Wolfson, M. (2015). First tobacco product tried: Associations with smoking status and demographics amongcollege studentsAddictive Behaviors, 51(0306-4603), 152-157. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2015.07.022

This journal article is about an internet survey-based study, used to determine which tobacco product (cigarettes, cigars, hookahs, etc.) college students began their tobacco use with as well as how demographics effected first tobacco use.  This study led to several conclusions about what can lead to a person becoming addicted.  Men and women typically use tobacco in different ways, and one third of people begin using tobacco in the form of cigarettes.  “While education is negatively associated with cigarette smoking, McMillen and colleagues found that higher education was associated with having tried hookah, snus, or electronic cigarettes.”  I found this article to be very interesting because it explored different factors that affect smoking habits that I had not previously thought of.  I had not thought of the difference between the common habits of men vs. women.  I had also not heard much about the difference between the different devices used, but I enjoyed reading about how “certain tobacco products may facilitate escalation to future cigarette smoking.”  I think this may be a strong source for me to use.

Little, A. K., Sher, K. J. (2011, September 22). Study Shows Keys to Why People Start Smoking. McClatchy – Tribune Business News, Retrieved from

This source is a newspaper article written about a long-term study that attempted to find out why people start and stop smoking.  Their findings showed that (especially in younger people who start smoking around the age of 18) the majority of people who start smoking do so because they are naturally more impulsive and neurotic than is normal.  The reason that many of these people are able to quit as they grow older is because those traits tend to dissipate as they progress in years.  “By analyzing data collected during a long-term study, Andrew K. Littlefield, doctoral student in psychology, and Kenneth J. Sher, professor of psychology, have found that people who smoke at age 18 have higher rates of impulsivity than non-smokers at that age.”  This article was helpful to me because it pinpointed some of the personality traits that can lead to a person beginning regular tobacco use.  This article talks about how impulsivity and neuroticism contribute to the desire to start using tobacco and that was helpful to me, but this article was quite brief and did not talk about much else, so it was not as helpful as I had hoped.

Cremers, H., Mercken, L., de Vries, H., & Oenema, A. (2015). A Longitudinal Study on Determinants of the Intention to Start Smoking Among Non-Smoking Boys and Girls of High and Low Socioeconomic Status. BioMed Central, 15(648). doi: 10.1186/s12889-015-1917-9

This article assesses boys and girls from both high- and low-socioeconomic status neighborhoods in order to determine what types of factors influence the childrens’ intent to start smoking.  The study showed that Children from high-socioeconomic status neighborhoods were most influenced to think about or actually start smoking by positive attitudes towards smoking while children from low-socioeconomic status are more influence by social norms ( the fact that smoking is more socially acceptable in these areas.  This article could prove to be very helpful to me because it focuses on what can directly influence what causes children to want to start smoking, which is exactly what I am looking for!  I was surprised to learn how these different factors generally influence a particular area and demographic more than others.  “The results indicated that positive attitudes toward smoking were related to the intention to smoke among HSES boys, whereas HSES girls had higher intentions to smoke if they perceived fewer disadvantages of smoking (OR: 0.42; 95 % CI: 0.22–0.82). The intention to smoke among LSES boys was predicted by perceived social norms (OR: 0.49; 95 % CI: 0.25–0.93); in LSES girls, the smoking behavior of people in their environment was most strongly related to their smoking intention (OR: 5.55; 95 % CI: 2.81–10.93).”

Brooks, A. (1998, August 8). Teenage Girls Start Smoking to Lose Weight. BMJ, Retrieved from

This article argues that teenage girls begin smoking because they perceive themselves to be overweight.  They start smoking because it supposedly makes the smoker less hungry.  The average girl studied lost 7 kg or more as a result of smoking.  This article was very short but it got to the point.  It pin pointed the reason that many people (particularly young girls) start smoking.  I had heard from a friend who smokes that he often forgets to eat because smoking seems to satisfy his hunger, and this article reinforced that idea.  “One in four girls said . . . that they used smoking ‘instead of eating.'”  I believe that I will be able to incorporate this article in my final paper.

First Two Sources

My first source for this research project is an education curriculum that focuses on the history, making, and facts of cigarette smoking as well as why people smoke (this is the main tie to my research), titled “From the First to Last Ash: The History, Economics & Hazards of Tobacco.” This short curriculum was found online and was funded in 1993 by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health grant to The Cambridge Tobacco Education Program, Cambridge Department of Human Service Programs.  It provides insight on why people begin smoking.

My second source is a journal article from Volume 50 of Addictive Behaviors titled “The Impact of Early Life Stress on Risk of Tobacco Smoking Initiation by Adolescents.”  This article was written by researchers who conducted an experiment using children 3-7 years old to see if they could find out which types of stress could trigger the initiation of tobacco use in adolescents.  These researchers are trying to figure out what causes people to start smoking, so I found this article to be quite helpful.

Possible Research Topics

  1. Does physical activity effect how well college students perform in the classroom? Does being physically active on a regular basis help students? And what are the effects of a sedentary lifestyle? Also, do college level athletics have a negative or positive effect on classroom performance?
  2. Why do so many people today see feminism in a negative light? Is it because people have misconstrued what they have seen on various media platforms or is there something to all these negative views?  I want to see what kind of effect this movement and similar movements have on society as a whole.  Do these movements help us to fix problems within our society or do they create more than they help to fix?
  3. Why do people continue to do harmful activities such as smoking?  What makes people want to start smoking when the side effects are supposedly very well known?  And is vaping really a better alternative and why do people vape when there are so many unknowns to go along with it?

Interest Inventory – possible topics

Habits – exercising, music, sports, texting, social media, movies, school/studying

Movements – feminism, black lives matter and similar movements, religions, social media, anti-war movements, terrorism, anti-government

History – WWI and WWII, Holocaust, British imperialism, 9/11, slavery around the world

This is a fairly short list but it is all the first things that popped in my head while doing this.  Some of these things that I would be most interested in researching and writing about would be the impact of sports and exercise on students and whether it positively or negatively effects their schoolwork, feminism and other civil rights movements and why some people see them in a bad light today.  If anyone wants to comment and tell me what they think of these topics I would really appreciate it!

Essay 2 Reflection

I have never done an actual synthesis essay like this before, only basic research papers in high school.  The process for this essay proved to be very different from what I was used to.  One big difference was that I am used to using MLA formatting and so i had to learn how to use APA for this essay, but Dr. Schaub’s guidance helped a lot with that.  Another thing that I needed to change about my normal writing process was my preparation.  In high school there weren’t as many restrictions on what types of sources I could use (essentially as long as you didn’t use a Wikipedia article you were fine) and therefore I could put off writing my paper until essentially the night before and then find a few half decent sources and BS my way through writing my essay and still manage to get an A.  But obviously I couldn’t do that this time.  I actually had to dedicate a lot of time previous to writing the essay to finding good, substantive sources and reading them thoroughly.  I had to actually push myself to put in the work well ahead of the deadline in order to find the sources I needed.  This was difficult for me as I typically procrastinate a lot.  But I think that this assignment helped me realize what kind of work I need to put in to write a paper like this.  It takes more work than I am used to and now I know what to expect in the future.  I still believe that I can improve on this in the future and that I should find a way to better motivate myself to do better research but I am proud of how my paper turned out and think that this was a good learning experience for me.

Chosen Research Question:

After a lot of deliberation I have narrowed down my possible research questions to the one that I think is best.  I had to change it up a little from how I originally worded it and thought about it because it was too broad.  But I think i have figured it out now, although I am still open to more suggestions.  My question is:

How does social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) affect how Americans perceive truth?  Do these mediums change how we see the line between truth and falsehood?

Research Essay Ideas

Alright so I’ve come up with a few ideas on what to use as my research question.  If you guys could comment and let me know what you think of them that would be great! I know that we talked about some of these in class or something similar to some of them.

1) When is it okay to lie?  Could lying ever be justified?  I would want to look at this from several different perspectives and analyze different reasons to lie.

2)  How does the media affect how we see truths or what we hold to be true?  I could look at how different mediums affect different people or different aspects of society.

3)  Is there such a thing as a true hero?  Meaning: is there a universal definition of hero?  I wanted to look into this because one culture may not view another culture’s hero the same way.

4)  In our society, how are children conditioned to accept something as truth?  Are they really free to choose what they believe or think or are children made to think that something is true?