Study of campuses links smoking, binge drinking
Light up, drink hard.
Smoking and binge drinking are close companions on Minnesota college campuses. Student smokers are more than twice as likely as their nonsmoking peers to admit to bouts of heavy drinking, according to a new survey of 17 two-year and four-year colleges.
Drinking and smoking aren't new problems for colleges. But the results of the spring survey of public and private campuses show a stronger-than-expected link between tobacco and alcohol and a need for a greater focus on the two together, officials said Tuesday.
"When you see smokers having high-risk drinking rates at two to three times that of nonsmokers, something's going on here," said Ed Ehlinger, chief health officer at the University of Minnesota's Boynton Health Service.
Among its findings, the survey found:
â€¢ 28 percent of students who said they don't smoke admitted to consuming five or more drinks at a sitting within the previous two weeks â€” behavior identified as high-risk in the survey. For smokers, that number shot up to 67 percent.
â€¢ Two-year schools tended to have a higher percentage of daily smokers than four-year schools.
â€¢ Cars, bars and parties were the places students were most likely to smoke, with about 75 percent smoking in bars. Ehlinger said they plan to redo the survey next spring to see if ordinances banning smoking in bars help reduce the numbers of intermittent smokers.
â€¢ Rates of illegal drug use stayed fairly stable, with about 15 percent of students saying they had used marijuana in the previous 30 days, Ehlinger said. Rates of other illegal drugs stayed low for a simple reason, he added: "People who are on other illegal drugs don't stay in college very long."
The survey of 6,751 students intrigued researchers because it included two-year schools along with four-year colleges within 80 miles of the Twin Cities, including the University of Minnesota's Twin Cities campus and St. Cloud State.