College students' exposure to secondhand smoke

  • Wolfson M
  • McCoy T
  • Sutfin E
  • 3


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INTRODUCTION: Exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) is associated with morbidity and mortality from coronary heart disease, lung cancer, respiratory infections, asthma, sudden infant death syndrome, and other illnesses. Although substantial numbers of college students smoke, little is known about their exposure to SHS. This paper provides data on self-reported exposure of college students to SHS. METHODS: A Web-based survey of a random sample of undergraduate students at 10 universities (eight public and two private) in North Carolina was conducted (N = 4,223). RESULTS: A total of 83% of students reported any exposure in the 7 days preceding the survey. Exposure in a restaurant or bar was the most common (reported by 65% of students), followed by exposure at home or in the same room as a smoker (55%) and in a car (38%). Being a daily or nondaily smoker, binge drinking, being a fraternity or sorority member or pledge, female gender, White race, and higher parental education levels were associated with exposure in one or more contexts. Students younger than 21 years were less likely to report exposure in a bar or restaurant and more likely to report exposure in cars or at home. The overall campus smoking rate was positively associated with reported exposure in cars, at home or in someone's room, and in any location. DISCUSSION: College administrators, other policy makers, and tobacco control advocates should take steps to reduce smoking and concomitant exposure to SHS among college students.

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  • M. Wolfson

  • T. P. McCoy

  • E. L. Sutfin

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