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Fewer College Kids Smoking, But Industry Tactics a Threat
Date:9/8/2008

Tobacco firms spend $1M a day sponsoring campus events, giveaways, lung association says

TUESDAY, Sept. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Fewer U.S. college students (1 in 5) are smoking than ever before, but college and university leaders need to take a stand against aggressive tobacco industry marketing tactics to ensure student smoking rates don't increase, a new American Lung Association report finds.

"Colleges and universities have a responsibility to provide safe spaces in which their students can learn and live. This should include an environment free from secondhand smoke and advertising that encourages young adults to use deadly tobacco products," Bernadette A. Toomey, president and CEO of the American Lung Association, said in a news release about the report released Sept. 8.

The report authors analyzed published research, surveys and tobacco industry documents to assess the impact tobacco has on college students.

College student smoking rates in 1989 were nearly as low as they are now but surged in the following decade to reach a high of 30.6 percent, the report said. The tobacco industry plays a major role in fluctuating college student smoking rates. For example, in 2005, the tobacco industry spent more than $1 million a day sponsoring events and giveaways targeting college students. One study found that students at 109 of 119 schools surveyed reported seeing tobacco promotions in an on-campus event, the report said.

"The industry's return on investment is staggering. Nearly 20 percent of today's college students are regular smokers. Even worse is (the tobacco industry's) continued campaign to increase these numbers. Every college student in American has a target on their back as far as the tobacco industry is concerned," Toomey said.

Tobacco industry documents revealed campaigns to target young adults during transitional life stages, such as moving from high school to college or work. Tobac
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