Academic journal article College Student Journal

Preliminary Examination of First Year Female University Students: Smoking Practices and Beliefs in a City with No-Smoking Legislation

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Preliminary Examination of First Year Female University Students: Smoking Practices and Beliefs in a City with No-Smoking Legislation

Article excerpt

Young adults between the ages of 20 to 24 are reported to have the highest smoking rates of any other age group. A questionnaire was used to assess the smoking practices and beliefs of 323 female university students. All participants were first year students entering university in a city where smoke-free legislation had been enacted. Results indicated that smoking rates were lower then those found among other university samples. This suggests that no-smoking legislation may promote an atmosphere where pressures to smoke are minimized, thus assisting students in making positive choices concerning their health. These exploratory findings require replication in future research.

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Despite the documented adverse effects of smoking on health (1,2,3) and the devastating economic costs from a health care perspective (e.g., from lost productivity, fire damage) (4,5) society continues to use tobacco products. Health Canada (6) reports that 20 to 24 year olds have the highest smoking rates of any other age group. For example, numerous campus-based studies in North America have reported smoking rates between 10% to 19%; (7,8,9,10) however, if experimental smoking is considered, rates increase dramatically to 37% to 78%. (9,10) Although research reveals that smoking prevalence declines with higher educational attainment (American Lung Association, 2002; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2001), (4,11) smoking still exists among the educated.

Over and above the effects smoking has on disease development, (2) smoking creates additional problems unique to women. For example, Stachenko et al. (3) found that female smokers who use oral contraceptives are 8 to 10 times more likely to suffer a cardiovascular incident then non-smoking oral contraceptive users, including the possibility of a subarachnoid hemonhage, depressed HDL-cholesterol levels, and myocardial infarction. Additionally, women smokers are also more likely to face issues with infertility and problems while pregnant (e.g., higher rates of spontaneous abortion, stillbirth, low birth weight babies, premature deliveries). (2) Additionally Crocker et al. (12) revealed that smokers had lower levels of global self-esteem, body attractiveness and greater dietary restriction than non-smokers (see, also, George & Johnson (13)).

Purpose

This exploratory research highlights some of the findings obtained from the analysis of a questionnaire administered to university-aged women concerning their beliefs and smoking practices in a city with no-smoking legislation.

Methods

Three hundred and twenty three first year female students were recruited during weekly on-campus residence meetings from a university in Central Ontario. Individuals were residents of all-female on-campus dormitories and ranged in age from 17 to 22 years, with a mean of 19 years. A total of 254 participants classified themselves as non-smokers, 13 considered themselves smokers, 40 stated that they were social smokers and the remaining 16 former smokers. The response rate was approximately 95%. A 60-item questionnaire, developed by the research team, was distributed to participants.

Results

Most students were 19 and 20 years of age (94%) and from the Faculty of Arts (48%) in terms of academic discipline. Ninety three percent of the entire sample rated their overall health status as excellent or good. More non-smokers (94%), social smokers (90%) and former smokers (88%) rated their health as good or excellent, compared to current smokers (70%). The pill was used by 39% of non-smokers, 77% of smokers, 60% of social smokers and 56% of former smokers. (Table 1)

Prior to attending university, 75% of the sample classified themselves as nonsmokers; however, at the time of the study, 84% of participants indicated that they were either non-smokers or former smokers. All those classified as smokers at the time of the study claimed to have started smoking prior to attending university. …

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