Health, Stigma, and the Burden of Smoking in College: A Thematic Analysis

Am J Health Behav. 2016 May;40(3):381-8. doi: 10.5993/AJHB.40.3.10.


Objectives: Authorities estimate that 16.7% of adults 18-24 smoke, and many initiate or increase cigarette smoking while in college. Thus, college represents a critical time for intervention. Simmons et al developed and tested an interactive Web-based intervention that includes a component for inducing dissonance through creating video testimonials about the negatives of smoking.

Methods: We applied thematic analysis to video content to identify smoking's negative consequences as reflected in testimonials from 78 college smokers. We identified common themes and calculated the amount of time spent discussing each theme and the strength of language used.

Results: Social stigma and health consequences of smoking emerged as multidimensional themes; other common topics included financial burden, chemicals in cigarettes, and cravings/addiction.

Conclusions: These results provide insight into the attitudes of college student smokers. Addressing these topics may be important for message development in intervention and prevention studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Qualitative Research
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Social Stigma*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Universities
  • Young Adult