Kenneth Whitley

Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Wayne Higgins, Robert Baum, David Dunn


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Original department Health & Safety

Degree Program

Department of Public Health

Degree Type

Master of Science


The objectives of this study were to assess and compare the attitudes toward smoking and the cigarette smoking behaviors of tobacco growers and non-growers. A survey questionnaire was administered to 1,322 students, a stratified random sample of students (grades 5 through 12) in Knox, Whitley, Jackson and Clay counties of Kentucky. A questionnaire was also administered to the parent and/or parents of the students who were surveyed.

The results showed that a significantly larger number of grower students smoked and also smoked more cigarettes than non-grower students. A significantly larger percentage of grower students started smoking at an earlier age as compared to non-growers. Both student groups agreed that they probably would not be a smoker five years from now. The grower students and non-grower students did not show a significant difference in regard to the impact of smoking on health. However, a significantly larger number of grower students responded that smoking gave them a good feeling as compared to non-grower students. Grower students also thought cigarette smoke was less offensive than did non-grower students.

Non-grower and grower adults also exhibited different behaviors and attitudes toward cigarette smoking. Both adult groups agreed that smoking was harmful to one’s health. However, grower adults differed significantly regarding the degree to which they considered smoking to be related to specific diseases such as lung cancer, emphysema, bronchitis, and those of the cardiovascular system. Neither grower adults nor non-grower adults wanted their children to experiment with cigarettes.

Several similarities were observed between grower adults and grower students. Grower adults exhibited similar smoking behaviors as grower students. Also, grower adults responded much the same as grower students to several attitude statements. Both grower adults and grower students responded less favorably than their non-grower counterparts to statements dealing with the control and restrictions on cigarette smoking. Grower students responded less favorably than non-grower students to the exemplary role of parents and teachers not smoking. Likewise, grower adults also responded less favorably than non-grower adults to health professionals’ and teachers’ non-smoking exemplary roles.

Several possible factors were identified which may influence smoking behaviors and attitudes among growers including cultural, economic, and possibly, parental. In addition, growers exhibited smoking behaviors and attitudes different from those of non-growers. This study pointed to a need for further research in other counties in Kentucky, as well as in other tobacco producing states.


Medicine and Health Sciences | Public Health | Public Health Education and Promotion