Despite efforts to reduce adolescent smoking via minimum age-of-sale legislation, many young people continue to access tobacco through a mix of social and commercial sources. Little is known about the roles of habitus, capital, and social topographies in shaping under-age access to tobacco. This article draws on Bourdieu’s theory of practice and data generated from 56 focus groups with 14- to 19-year-olds across seven European cities to answer the question “via what sources and by what means do adolescents obtain tobacco?” We find that adolescents use a range of personal capitals (social, cultural, and economic) to access tobacco, with the specific constitution and deployment of these capitals varying according to the regularities of different fields. Since adolescents access tobacco via culturally embedded practices, attempts to curtail this access are more likely to be effective if they are multi-pronged, culturally informed, and attuned to the lived experiences of adolescent smokers.
- focus groups