Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Rates Of Secondhand Smoke Exposure High Among College Students

Date:
July 22, 2009
Source:
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
Summary:
Secondhand smoke is not only a nuisance, but a potential health concern for many college students, and administrators should be taking steps to reduce students' exposure, according to a new study.

Secondhand smoke (SHS) is not only a nuisance, but a potential health concern for many college students, and administrators should be taking steps to reduce students' exposure, according to a new study by researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

Related Articles


It is the first study to provide evidence of the high rates of SHS exposure, and correlates of exposure, among college students in the United States.

Funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the study can be found online today and will appear in the July 23 issue of Nicotine & Tobacco Research, a publication of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco.

"It is well-known that there are some serious health issues surrounding secondhand smoke," said Mark Wolfson, Ph.D., lead author on the study, professor and section head for the Section on Society and Health in the Department of Social Sciences and Health Policy. "While some college campuses are smoke free, others have virtually no restrictions on smoking, not even in the residence halls. There is a growing national movement to move away from that, but it still very much varies by campus. In this first study to evaluate SHS exposure among college students, we were really kind of floored to see how many, and how frequently, students are exposed to it."

For the study, researchers surveyed 4,223 undergraduate college students from 10 North Carolina universities – eight public and two private. They were asked questions about their drinking and smoking habits, demographics (age, gender, race, parents' education level), lifestyle (residence on- or off-campus, living in a substance-free dormitory, participation in a fraternity or sorority) and SHS exposure.

Of the participants, 83 percent reported having been exposed to SHS at least once in the seven days preceding the survey. Most of those exposures (65 percent) happened at a restaurant or bar, followed by exposure at home or in the same room as a smoker (55 percent) and in a car (38 percent).

Daily and occasional smokers were more likely than nonsmokers to report exposure, perhaps not surprising given that they are more likely than other students to have friends who smoke and to frequent or live in locations where smoking occurs, according to the study. Similarly, students who binge drink were more likely than other students to report exposure to SHS, likely reflective of the co-occurrence of smoking and drinking among college students.

Other factors that appeared to be associated with increased exposure to SHS included living in residence locations where smoking is allowed or locations associated with smoking, such as Greek houses and off-campus housing, being female, of white race, having parents with higher education levels and attending a public versus private school.

Nearly all nonsmokers (93.9 percent) and the majority of smokers (57.8 percent) reported that SHS was somewhat or very annoying.

"We were really shocked to see that 83 percent of students reported at least some exposure during the previous week," Wolfson said. "That said, we don't know if the exposure was at a nuisance level or at a level that might influence health. Either way, knowing what we know about SHS, lowering the rates of smoking is definitely something we should be seriously looking at on college campuses."

SHS contains at least 250 chemicals that are either toxic or carcinogenic and is, itself, considered a human carcinogen. In nonsmokers, exposure to SHS is estimated to be responsible for 3,000 deaths annually from lung cancer and 35,000 deaths from coronary heart disease, respiratory infections, asthma, sudden infant death syndrome and other illnesses in children in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2002.

Recent studies suggest that most colleges do not have a comprehensive ban on smoking. In fact, in another study of the largest public university in each of the 50 states, researchers found that only 54 percent of schools banned smoking inside student housing and 50 percent banned smoking outside building entrances. As a result, college students are likely to be exposed to SHS regularly.

More than 10 million individuals were enrolled in 4-year degree-granting institutions in fall 2002, thus colleges represent a key setting for preventing exposure to SHS to promote public health.

Although college administrators may be limited in their ability to affect exposure in some locations, they have a responsibility to provide a safe and healthy environment for students, the authors wrote in their study, and should consider looking at ways to take steps to reduce smoking and concomitant exposure to SHS among their students. Such steps include enacting smoke-free campus policies and offering smoking cessation services, such as those recommended by the American College Health Association.

The NC Health and Wellness Trust Fund's Tobacco Free Colleges initiative promotes work to prevent initiation of tobacco use among young adults, eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke on college campuses, promote cessation and reduce health disparities among college students attributable to tobacco use.

Additionally, a new law in North Carolina prohibiting smoking in nearly all restaurants and bars will go into effect January 2, 2010.

"Debates about smoking restrictions, especially on college campuses, often revolve around considerations of individual choice," Wolfson said. "However, the issue of SHS exposure brings in the rights of all to a healthy environment. This is an issue which is beginning to resonate with many college administrators."

Co-authors on the study were Thomas P. McCoy, M.S. and Erin L. Sutfin, Ph.D., both of the School of Medicine.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. "Rates Of Secondhand Smoke Exposure High Among College Students." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 July 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090721091833.htm>.
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. (2009, July 22). Rates Of Secondhand Smoke Exposure High Among College Students. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090721091833.htm
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. "Rates Of Secondhand Smoke Exposure High Among College Students." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090721091833.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins