Young adult smoking behavior: a national survey

Am J Prev Med. 2009 May;36(5):389-394.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2009.01.028. Epub 2009 Mar 6.


Background: Young adults have the highest smoking rate of any age group in the U.S., and new strategies to decrease young adult smoking are needed. The objective of the current study was to identify psychographic and demographic factors associated with current smoking and quitting behaviors among young adults.

Methods: Attitudes, social groups, and self-descriptors, including supporting action against the tobacco industry, advertising receptivity, depression, alcohol use, and other factors associated with smoking were tested for associations with smoking behaviors in a 2005 cross-sectional survey of 1528 young adults (aged 18-25 years) from a web-enabled panel. Analyses were conducted in 2007.

Results: Being older was associated with current smoking, whereas having some higher education and being African American or Hispanic were negatively associated with smoking. Supporting action against the tobacco industry was negatively associated with smoking (AOR=0.34 [95% CI=0.22, 0.52]). Perceived usefulness of smoking, exposure to smokers, increased perceived smoking prevalence, receptivity to tobacco advertising, binge drinking, and exposure to tobacco advertising in bars and clubs were associated with smoking. Supporting action against the tobacco industry was associated with intentions to quit smoking (AOR=4.43 [95% CI=2.18, 8.60]).

Conclusions: Young adults are vulnerable to tobacco-industry advertising. Media campaigns that denormalize the tobacco industry and appeal to young adults appear to be a powerful intervention to decrease young adult smoking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Advertising
  • Attitude to Health
  • Black or African American
  • Data Collection
  • Demography
  • Depression
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Smoking Cessation*
  • Tobacco Industry
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult