smoking increases among college students
A nationwide survey of college students found an increased prevalence of smoking among all student demographic groups, according to a recent article in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
Henry Wechsler, Ph.D., from the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, and colleagues found that between 1993 and 1997 the prevalence of current cigarette smoking among college students increased 28 percent.
The researchers found that current smoking increased among all student demographic groups and that more than a quarter of the smokers in the 1997 survey began smoking regularly while in college. The researchers studied the 1993 and 1997 results of a survey conducted at 116 four-year colleges designed to collect information on the drinking habits of college students. The survey also included questions about cigarette smoking habits and other high-risk behaviors. The 1993 study surveyed a random selection of 15,103 students. The 1997 study surveyed a random selection of 14,251 students.
“Smoking prevalence was higher in whites than blacks or Asians and higher in freshmen, sophomores, and juniors than seniors and fifth-year students. ... Prevalence was lower at private than public schools, lower at commuter schools than at residential schools, and lower at highly competitive schools (based on ACT and SAT scores and percentages of applicants accepted) compared with less-competitive schools,” according to the researchers.
“Schools in the Northeast, North Central, and South regions had higher smoking rates than schools in the West. Smoking prevalence did not differ between rural and urban schools, between women's and coeducational institutions, or between schools with and without a religious affiliation,” they said.
The college students surveyed in 1997 had a higher smoking prevalence at college entry than did the college students who responded to the 1993 survey. The researchers state: “These dates suggest that the rise in adolescent smoking that occurred in the 1990s is not a transient phenomenon. They will likely have higher smoking rates as adults and thereby contribute to higher overall adult smoking rates in future years.”
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