Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Rates of cigarette smoking vary considerably by age, sex, social class, geographic area, and period, but current theories of smoking behaviour were not intended to account for many of the major trends. A diffusion model has been used to explain the adoption, spread, and discontinuance of a number of new behaviours and techniques. In this thesis, a number of empirical generalizations developed by Rogers (1982) are tested using several approaches and data sets to determine the "goodness of fit" smoking behaviour with the diffusion model. These include predictions about the nature of the diffusion curve, the characteristics of cigarettes, and the characteristics of early adopters of smoking and cessation.;Several techniques are used to test these generalizations. Historical and recent patterns of smoking are described using survey and aggregate data for Canada and the United States. Canada Health Survey data are used to reconstruct estimates of rates of smoking for sex-birth cohorts for 1900-1978. The cohorts are stratified by region, education and occupation to examine patterns of adoption and cessation by geographic area and socioeconomic status. Log-linear analysis with a logit model is used to determine predictors of adoption, cessation and smoking level among individuals.;Results provide considerable support for the classic diffusion model. Estimates of rates of smoking conform generally to a diffusion curve. The diffusion model explains some but not all sex differences in patterns of cigarette smoking, and much of the variation by region and socioeconomic status. Sex differences in rates of smoking persisted for many years and disappeared only recently among younger cohorts of smokers. Both smoking and cessation occurred earlier in regions with characteristics that would predict early adoption and among smokers with higher socioeconomic status.;These analyses provide clues about future patterns of smoking. High rates of smoking found in late adopter categories are expected to decline faster than lower rates found among early adopters, resulting in increasingly similar patterns of use by region and social class, as has already occurred by sex. Late adopter groups will continue to be the most important target for prevention activity.



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