US college students' exposure to tobacco promotions: prevalence and association with tobacco use

Am J Public Health. 2005 Jan;95(1):138-44. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2003.026054.


Objectives: We assessed young adults' exposure to the tobacco industry marketing strategy of sponsoring social events at bars, nightclubs, and college campuses.

Methods: We analyzed data from the 2001 Harvard College Alcohol Study, a random sample of 10904 students enrolled in 119 nationally representative 4-year colleges and universities.

Results: During the 2000-2001 school year, 8.5% of respondents attended a bar, nightclub, or campus social event where free cigarettes were distributed. Events were reported by students attending 118 of the 119 schools (99.2%). Attendance was associated with a higher student smoking prevalence after we adjusted for demographic factors, alcohol use, and recent bar/nightclub attendance. This association remained for students who did not smoke regularly before 19 years of age but not for students who smoked regularly by 19 years of age.

Conclusions: Attendance at a tobacco industry-sponsored event at a bar, nightclub, or campus party was associated with a higher smoking prevalence among college students. Promotional events may encourage the initiation or the progression of tobacco use among college students who are not smoking regularly when they enter college.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Advertising / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tobacco Industry*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Universities