To investigate the issue of smoking initiation during college, we administered a survey of women's health behavior to college women during freshman orientation, at the end of their freshman year and again during their senior year. Never smokers (NS; n=374), early-onset smokers (EOS; n=52), and late-onset smokers (LOS; n=64) were compared on dieting concerns, mood problems, alcohol-related problems, and frequency of binge drinking episodes. By the senior year of college, 55% (64/116) of those who had smoked in the past month had started smoking during college, although they were more likely than never smokers to have experimented with cigarettes prior to college. Escalating depression during the first year of college, dieting concerns, and alcohol-related problems were significant risk factors for smoking initiation during college, while binge drinking appeared to covary with cigarette smoking. Results suggest that prevention efforts should target nonsmokers with high dieting concerns and escalating depression early in college, while intervention efforts may need to target not only smoking but also problematic alcohol use among smoking college women.
Copyright 2004 Elsevier Ltd.