Smoking initiation and smoking patterns among US college students

J Am Coll Health. 1999 Sep;48(2):55-60. doi: 10.1080/07448489909595674.


The ages at which 18- to 24-year-old college students started smoking and its relationship to subsequent smoking were explored, using data from the 1995 National College Health Risk Behavior Survey. Most students (70%) had tried smoking; among those who had tried, 42% were current smokers, 19% were current frequent smokers, and 13% were current daily smokers. The majority (81%) who had ever smoked daily began doing so at age 18 years or younger, and 19% began smoking daily at age 19 years or older. Women were as likely as men to report ever having smoked a whole cigarette or ever having smoked daily. Most students (82%) who had ever smoked daily had tried to quit, but 3 in 4 were still smokers. Policies and programs designed to prevent the initiation of smoking and to help smokers quit are needed at both the high school and the college levels to reduce the proportion of young adults who smoke cigarettes.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Age of Onset
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Needs Assessment
  • Population Surveillance
  • Sex Distribution
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking / ethnology
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Smoking Prevention
  • Students / psychology
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Universities*