Press Releases

1998 Releases

Study Documents Smoking on College Campuses

For immediate release: February 04, 1998 

Boston, MA--A study by Harvard School of Public Health researchers reports that college students who engage in binge drinking, have multiple sexual partners or use marijuana were two to six times more likely to smoke than students who do not engage in these risky behaviors. The link between smoking and drinking, reported in this month's issue of The American Journal of Public Health, suggests that if colleges and universities can establish policies and programs to reduce drinking or smoking, other high risk behaviors can be curtailed.

This is the largest population-based study of its kind to examine these health-related behaviors among students. Investigators analyzed data from the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study, a survey of 140 college campuses and over 17,000 students concerning lifestyle, academic performance and drug use including alcohol and smoking. Nearly half the students surveyed had a history of smoking: 22% were current smokers and 25% had smoked at one time. Previous findings from the same survey of students shows that freshman students typically readily engage in binge drinking at colleges where binge drinking is prevalent.

"As college bound students, especially freshmen, prepare to arrive college campuses next fall, parents and students need to be alert to the complexity of drug use on campus," comments Karen M. Emmons, PhD, first author on the study and associate professor of health and social behavior at the Harvard School of Public Health and a researcher at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. "Our study also finds that students who are uninterested in campus activities or are dissatisfied with their educational program are more likely to smoke. Policies and interventions by college administration, involving resident advisors, for example, that seek to engage students in college activities can address the problems that are connected to the initiation of risky behaviors such as smoking and drinking."

For further information, please contact:

Robin Herman
Office of Communications
Harvard School of Public Health
677 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
Phone: 617-432-4752
Email: rherman@hsph.harvard.edu