An Intersectional Analysis of Women’s Experiences of Smoking-Related Stigma

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In this article, we explore how young women encounter and counter discourses of smoking-related stigma. Twenty-seven young Australian women, smokers and ex-smokers, took part in interviews. A sub-sample of 18 participants took photographs to document their smoking experience, and took part in a second interview. Data were analyzed through Foucauldian discourse analysis. Four discourses were identified: “smoking as stigmatized,” “the smoking double standard,” “smoking as lower class,” and “smokers as bad mothers.” The women negotiated stigma in a variety of ways, shifting between agreeing, disagreeing, challenging, and displacing stigma onto “other” smokers. These experiences and negotiations of smoking-related stigma were shaped by intersecting identities, including gender, cultural background, social class, and mothering, which at times, compounded levels of stigmatization. It is concluded that tobacco control measures should consider the negative implications of smoking-related stigma, and the potential for women to experience compounding levels of stigma.

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