A closer look at smoking among young adults: where tobacco control should focus its attention

Am J Public Health. 2007 Aug;97(8):1427-33. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2006.103945. Epub 2007 Jun 28.


Objectives: We sought to fill gaps in knowledge of smoking behaviors among college-educated and non-college-educated young adults.

Methods: We used data from the 2003 Tobacco Use Supplement of the Current Population Survey to analyze smoking behaviors among young adults aged 18-24 years and older young adults aged 25-34 years by college status (enrolled, or with a degree, but not enrolled) and other measures of socioeconomic position.

Results: Current smoking prevalence among US young adults aged 18-24 years who are not enrolled in college or who do not have a college degree was 30%. This was more than twice the current smoking prevalence among college-educated young adults (14%). Non-college-educated young adults were more likely than were college-educated young adults to start smoking at a younger age and were less likely to have made a quit attempt, although no differences were found in their intentions to quit. Higher rates of smoking in the non-college-educated population were also evident in the slightly older age group.

Conclusions: Non-college-educated young adults smoke at more than twice the rate of their college-educated counterparts. Targeted prevention and cessation efforts are needed for non-college-educated young adults to prevent excess morbidity and mortality in later years.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Educational Status*
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Smoking Cessation* / methods
  • Smoking Cessation* / psychology
  • Smoking Prevention*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States / epidemiology