Opinions about Smoking Policies, Exposure to Secondhand Smoke, and Smoking Behaviors of Freshman College Students

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Haley E. DeYoung, N/A, N/A
Megan M. Eggert, N/A, N/A
College of Nursing & Health Professions, Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN, USA

College years are a time of life transition and therefore smoking abstinence programs are needed on college campuses in order to prevent initiation of smoking behaviors and promote smoking abstinence (Rogers, 2012). The purpose of this project was to assess freshman college students’ opinions of smoking policies, secondhand smoke exposure, and smoking behaviors within a smoke-free campus. The Transtheoretical Model (Prochaska & DiClemente, 1983) provided framework for assessment of behaviors and intentions. An on-line cross-sectional survey was used to collect the data. Surveys were emailed via Zoomerang and Survey Monkey to all undergraduate freshman students at a private, Midwestern university consecutively over four fall semesters from 2011 through 2014. Survey questions contained 56 forced-choice or open-ended options. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics. A total of 1,294 freshman responded yielding a 42.9% response rate. The majority of the subjects were female (59%) and white (85%). Twenty-eight percent were unaware that the campus is a smoke-free environment. While 75% of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the campus should be a smoke-free environment, 68% reported seeing students smoking on campus. When asked about second-hand smoke exposure, 22% of the freshman students were exposed to secondhand smoke in their environments, and 46% indicated they have friends who smoke a tobacco product. Fifty-two percent agreed or strongly agreed that they would ask others not to smoke around them, and 91% indicated they would rather date a non-smoker. Thirty-five percent (n = 450) of freshman students admitted to smoking at some point in their lifetime. On the average, students indicated they started smoking at the age of sixteen (SD = 2.34). When asked about current smoking behaviors, 14% (n = 139) indicated they smoked during the previous 30 days, but only 48 (26%) of these smokers would consider themselves a “smoker”. To further describe smoking behaviors (n = 139), 18 (21%) freshman said they smoked only once in the last 30 days while 14 reported they smoked every day (M = 8, SD = 10.7). Smoking was reported as a social behavior with 94% indicating they smoked with others. Based on the TTM stages of change, intentions to abstain from smoking were assessed. Twenty-two smokers (14%) said they decided to stop smoking within the next month and had a quit date, while 41 (27%) did not think smoking was a problem and did not plan to quit. Findings from this campus indicated that the rate of smoking behaviors of freshman students was similar to national college data. Data from this study adds to the growing body of evidence about college students’ opinions concerning smoking and their smoking behaviors. These data are being used to form a foundation for an evidence-based project on smoking abstinence across campus.