Objectives: We sought to determine whether the educational backgrounds of young adult smokers (aged 18 to 24 years) affect their cessation attitudes or behaviors in ways that could be used to improve smoking interventions.
Methods: We surveyed 5580 members of the HealthPartners health plan and conducted a follow-up survey 12 months later of current and former smokers. Respondents were divided into subgroups according to educational level.
Results: Higher levels of education were associated with lower smoking rates (16% among students in 4-year colleges, 31% among those in technical or 2-year colleges, and 48% among those with a high school education or less) as well as less frequent or heavy smoking. However, number of quit attempts in the past year, level of interest in quitting, and smoking relapse rates did not vary according to educational level. Seventy-three percent of those who had attempted to quit had not used some form of assistance.
Conclusions: Rates of smoking among young adults, especially those at low educational levels, are relatively high. However, most members of this age group are interested in quitting, regardless of educational background.