Tobacco Use and Cessation

Tobacco Use on Campus

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Tobacco product use is started and established primarily during adolescence,” with nearly 90% of cigarette smokers first trying cigarette smoking by age 18, and 98% first try smoking by age 26. 

Tobacco use is often started during adolescence, which includes 18-22 year olds. That said, not all college students use tobacco products regularly, even if they may have tried it once or twice during high school or college. One of the issues is that students perceive other students to use tobacco more than they do. This could contribute to increased rates of tobacco use–if you think your peers are doing something, you may be more likely to try it, too. Here are some recent stats from the National College Health Assessment (Spring 2019) on reported tobacco use among college students:

 

  Any use last 30 days: Actual use Any use last 30 days: Perceived use Never used: Actual Never used: Perceived
Cigarette 6.4% 70.2% 80.1% 14.2%
E-cigarette (i.e., vaping) 12.6% 83.1% 76.8% 10.1%
Hookah 2.1% 58.2% 84.8% 21.4%

 

As this table shows, most students don’t use tobacco products regularly. But other students perceive the use to be high. Why do you think that is? It could be that maybe we assume college students use cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and hookah all the time. It could also be that we see the tell-tale signs of use, such as smelling a cigarette or seeing tobacco-related litter on the ground. What other reasons do you think students perceive other students to use tobacco more than they do?

Tobacco and Your Health

Any amount of tobacco use, including through e-cigarettes, puts you at risk. The nicotine found in all tobacco products is addictive, and even social or occasional use increases the chance of addiction.

Smoking Can Damage Nearly Every Part of Your Body.

Tobacco- and Smoke-Free Campuses

Many colleges now are smoke-free and many are even entirely tobacco free.

  • 2,375 colleges are smoke-free
  • 2,009 are entirely tobacco free
  • 1,986 don’t allow e-cigarette use
  • 1,019 don’t allow hookah use
  • 450 don’t allow smoking/vaping of marijuana
  • 495 extend their tobacco-free rules to personal vehicles while on campus

Recent research has found that 75% of respondents support a tobacco-free campus, so these policies are pretty popular in the United States.

What Does a Smoke- or Tobacco-Free Campus Look Like?

American Cancer Society’s Tobacco-Free Generation Campus Initiative (TFGCI) uses the following definitions

100% smoke-free policies prohibit the use of all combustible (burned) tobacco products on all campus grounds and properties, including residential buildings, both indoors and out, at all times, by students, faculty, staff and visitors.

 

100% tobacco-free policies prohibit the use of all tobacco products of any kind on all campus grounds and properties, including residential buildings, both indoors and out, at all times, by students, faculty, staff and visitors.

A smoke-free campus:

  • Promotes smoke-free living as a social norm.
  • Prevents secondhand smoke.
  • Helps prevent the start of tobacco use and promotes quitting.

A tobacco-free campus:

  • Promotes smoke-free and tobacco-free living as a social norm.
  • Includes prohibiting the use of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and dissolvable products like dip, snuff, snus, and chew.
  • Prevents secondhand smoke.
  • Helps prevent the start of tobacco use and promotes quitting.

Check out your campus policy here [pdf]. Also be sure to check your campus’ website for the most up-to-date information.

There are many campus initiatives if you want to get involved in promoting your campus to be smoke- or tobacco-free. Here are just a few examples:

Cessation/Quitting Resources

If you currently use tobacco products and are interested in quitting, that’s great news! Quitting now can help reduce the negative effects that tobacco causes on your body. Quitting tobacco can be challenging—research shows that some smokers try to quit three times before they are able to successfully kick the habit. If you’ve tried to quit before, don’t give up! It’s better for your health and the health of those around you if you quit tobacco. 

There are many resources available to help you quit tobacco–many of them are free! Your campus may provide tobacco cessation services. Check with your student health center to see if cessation services are available to students. Your student health center may be able to recommend other resources that can help you quit, such as texting programs and apps.

Get Help with Quitting

Smokefree Teen
Smokefree.gov
Smokefree Texting Programs
Smokefree Apps