Discovering when and why students smoke might lead to the development of better intervention methods, according to researchers at the University of Missouri. In an article published in the journal Substance Use & Misuse, the researchers showed that partying, drinking and work prompted college students to recall their smoking experience, and that smoking occurred most often at the start of the semester and on weekends.
"Students are using social events and work as cues to remind them about smoking," said Nikole Cronk, PhD, assistant professor of family and community medicine at MU and lead author of the article. "This research is important for those working with college students to recognize when smoking is happening at its highest levels. Targeting interventions during those periods and prior to frequent smoking events would have the maximum impact on student smoking prevention."
Nearly a half million deaths are attributed to smoking annually, costing nearly $200 billion in health care costs and lost productivity in the United States. Though cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable deaths in the country, more than 20 percent of the population smokes. Every day, another 1,000 young people become new smokers.
"We know that college is a time where we see initiation of smoking," Cronk said. "If you ask college students, many will tell you it's something they don't intend to do after they're out of school, but a significant number do continue smoking. What we know is there's no safe level of smoking and no way to know that once you start you'll be able to easily quit."
Among college students, the rate of reported smokers spikes to nearly 30 percent. Since research shows that the majority of lifelong smokers begin smoking before the age of 24, targeting college student smokers with intervention and prevention efforts might help reduce those figures
|Contact: Michael Muin|
University of Missouri School of Medicine