A Third of College Students Smoke

ByABC News
August 8, 2000, 12:29 PM

B O S T O N, Aug. 8 -- Despite crusades and campaigns encouraging young people not to take up smoking, a third are currently using tobacco products, a number greater than previously believed, researchers said today.

Previous research examined cigarette smoking in college students, but failed to ask about the use of other tobacco products, such as cigars, which added significantly to the findings and may give researchers new insights into how to target smoking on campus.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health surveyed more than 14,000 students at 119 colleges nationwide, asking them to report on their lifetime use of tobacco.

The results were announced today at the World Conference on Tobacco OR Health in Chicago and were also published in a special issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association devoted to tobacco research.

Still Smoking

A third of the students said they had used a tobacco product cigarettes, chewing tobacco and increasingly, cigars in the last four weeks, indicating they were current users, and nearly half of the students admitted they had used tobacco in the past year.

Between 1993 and 1997, the number of U.S. college students who smoked cigarettes increased from 22 percent to 28 percent, the study reports. Researchers suspected that use of other tobacco products, such as cigars, was on the rise as well, but had never asked the question.

Their suspicions proved correct. In the current study, 23 percent of college students said they had smoked a cigar in the last year and 9 percent reported they were current cigar users, while only 3.7 percent said they currently use chewing tobacco and 1.2 percent said they currently smoke pipes. Those findings brought the total tobacco use up to 33 percent.

Playing With Fire?

Researchers blamed the rise in cigar use among young adults on the cigar industrys successful marketing push in the early 90s, which made cigar bars and magazines trendy.