Cigarette smoking practices among American college students: review and future directions

J Am Coll Health. 2004 Mar-Apr;52(5):203-10. doi: 10.3200/JACH.52.5.203-212.


Cigarette smoking among college students is a critical public health problem. In this article, the authors review available research on cigarette smoking practices among college students and suggest directions for future research. Studies show that smoking by college students is associated with being White, living in housing where smoking is permitted, using alcohol and other substances, and having a lower psychological sense of well-being. Depression, life satisfaction, and coping style are also related to college smoking, but the causal relationship remains unclear. Although a large proportion of college students have made an attempt to quit smoking, only a minority actually succeed. Most study designs examining college smoking have been cross-sectional, descriptive, or both. Thus, conclusions regarding predictors of smoking onset, maintenance, and cessation cannot be made. Future studies should use longitudinal designs that can identify psychological and socioenvironmental determinants of smoking among college students. Such information could inform the development of smoking prevention and cessation interventions targeted to the college student population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Students* / psychology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Universities