Students Continue to Smoke in Worrisome Numbers
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The bad news is, college students in large numbers continue to use tobacco products. And the 'good' news? Only a small minority of students smoke cigarettes or cigars on a daily basis.
``Reducing tobacco use of all types among young adults should be a national health priority,'' according to Dr. Nancy A. Rigotti, of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues.
Cigarette smoking among US college students rose 28% between 1993 and 1997, and the authors wondered whether this rapid rise had continued.
The investigators surveyed more than 14,000 students from 119 US colleges in 1999 to find out. And for the first time, they asked about all forms of tobacco use.
Although cigarette smoking rates did not change between 1997 and 1999, tobacco use continues at worrisome levels--more than 60% of college students have tried some tobacco product, just under half used tobacco in the past year. One-third used tobacco in the past month, according to study results published in the August 9th issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.
Among current cigarette smokers, 32% smoke less than a cigarette a day and only about 13% smoke a pack or more per day, the study found.
Nearly 9% of college students smoke cigars, but less than 1% smoke them daily, the researchers note. Smokeless tobacco is used regularly by only 4% of college students, and only about 1% of college students smoke a pipe.
Most college students started smoking young--half of them were smoking by the age of 14 years, according to the report. As previously shown, male and white students were more likely to use tobacco products than female and nonwhite students were.
Tobacco use is also more likely to be part of a 'package' that includes marijuana smoking, binge drinking, having sex with multiple partners, earning lower grades, rating parties as more important than academic activities, and spending more time socializing with friends, the results indicate.
``The college years are a crucial period in the development or abandonment of smoking behavior. Tobacco use in this group should be monitored closely, and young adults should be included in all tobacco control efforts,'' Rigotti and colleagues write.
``These efforts clearly need to broaden beyond cigarettes to address the use of cigars and smokeless tobacco,'' the authors conclude.