Attitudes toward Cigarette Smoking among College Students

By Van Volkom, Michele | College Student Journal, June 2008 | Go to article overview

Attitudes toward Cigarette Smoking among College Students


Van Volkom, Michele, College Student Journal


The purpose of the current study was to gather data on the attitudes and smoking habits of university students. Data were collected from 250 undergraduates dealing with various aspects of smoking behavior. There were 80 smokers and 170 nonsmokers, including 21 former smokers. In addition to demographic information, participants were assessed with respect to chronic self-destructiveness, locus of control, and hypergender ideology. Findings indicated significant positive relationships among willingness to date, marry, live with, and have sex with a smoker. Hypermasculinity was positively related to chronic self-destructiveness. Hyperfemininity was not related to chronic self-destructiveness. Nicotine dependence was also positively related to chronic self-destructiveness, but unrelated to hypergender ideology. Scores on the Chronic Self-Destructiveness Scale predicted regular smoking for both men and women. Implications of the results in terms of smoking prevention and smoking cessation programs are discussed.

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Cigarette smoking has been recognized for decades as a serious addiction. It has been labeled as an epidemic by some researchers (e.g., Leventhal & Cleary, 1980; Rowe, Chassin, Presson, Edwards, & Sherman, 1992; Rowe, Chassin, Presson, & Sherman, 1996). Cigarette-related deaths are the most preventable of all causes of death (Barton, Chassin, Presson, & Sherman, 1982; Chassin, Presson, Pitts, & Sherman, 2000; Fearnow, Chassin, Presson, & Sherman, 1998; Orlando, Tucker, Ellickson, & Klein, 2004; Viswesvaran & Schmidt, 1992). Smoking is related to a host of medical problems, including diseases of the heart, lungs, breasts, prostate, pancreas, and kidneys (Conrad, Flay, & Hill, 1992; DeBernardo et al., 1999; Ernster, 1986; Godin, Valois, LePage, & Desharnais, 1992; Guilford, 1972; Helvig, Sobell, Sobell, & Simco, 2006; Leventhal & Avis, 1976; Leventhal & Cleary, 1980; Segall & Wynd, 1990). It is also implicated in sexual and reproductive problems. The link between smoking and erectile dysfunction has been well-documented (Dinsmore, 1996; Tengs & Osgood, 2001). Smoking has also been implicated in women's fertility problems and early onset of menopause (Center for Disease Control, 2001).

It has been estimated that more than forty-eight million people in the United States smoke (Cohn et al., 2000). More than half of smokers are women (Everett et al., 1999). It has also been estimated that one quarter of all adolescents smoke (Everett et al., 1999). Other statistics have shown that nearly half a million lives are lost each year as a result of cigarette smoking (Buchhalter & Eissenberg, 2000; Tucker et al., 1995). More recent evidence confirms that between one-quarter and one-third of all deaths in America can be attributed to cigarette smoking (Helvig et al., 2006). Even nonsmokers are affected by this public health crisis (Everett et al., 1999; Glantz & Jamieson, 2000; Norman, Ribisl, Howard-Pitney, & Howard, 1999). Researchers have estimated that over fifty thousand nonsmokers are killed each year by secondhand smoke (Glantz & Parmley, 1991; Taylor, Johnson, & Kazemi, 1992). Smoking causes more deaths than the combination of homicides, suicides, and fires (Moskal, Dziuban, & West, 1999).

Many early studies of smoking only examined males (Baer, 1966; Jacobs & Spilken, 1971), but researchers now include women in their studies. This is because increases in smoking and decreases in smoking cessation have more often been reported among adolescent and adult females than their male counterparts (Gottlieb, 1983; Moskal et al., 1999; Page & Gold, 1983; Sorensen & Pechacek, 1987; Spielberger, Jacobs, Crane, & Russell, 1983). This may be because cigarette advertisements are more often targeted toward women than men in recent decades compared to prior years (Zinser, Kloosterman, & Williams, 1991). …

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