Up in smoke: kick cigarette habit in the butt

By on March 27, 2003

With the resources of Dr. Ronald Rozett, director of Health Administration, general smoking topics will be discussed in this section periodically for the remainder of the semester. General cigarette smoking, ways to quit and the marketing of tobacco to college students will be discussed. Cigarette smoking in recent years has been a concern on college campuses across the country; thus The Chronicle is bringing the information to the Quinnipiac community.

It is noticeable on this campus many students smoke cigarettes. Whether gagging as people blow their smoke at you while walking through campus or holding your breath trying to sneak under a cloud of smoke while walking into the student center, it often seems everyone on this campus is lighting up. Maybe you are one of the 30 percent of the student population smoking daily. That percentage may seem high to some or low to others, but to both smokers and non-smokers alike, you see that amount of people right here on this campus smoking their cigarettes everyday.

Quinnipiac’s Dr. Ronald Rozett, director of Health Administration, said nationally 30 percent of students on college campuses are smokers. While exact figures are unconfirmed for Quinnipiac, Rozett said clearly smoking is a real problem here and that Quinnipiac seems typical in comparison to the national statistics.

Rozett practiced medicine for 25 years and has seen the effects of smoking personally. When he began work at this campus he was startled by the amount of smoking here. This has lead him to gather resources and work with the Quit Smoking Committee on campus to educate students and get find ways to help them to quit this habit.

While nearly 30 percent are smoking cigarettes, the American Cancer Society says half of all college smokers have tried unsuccessfully to quit in the previous year. A full 30 percent of cancer deaths are caused by tobacco also according to the American Cancer Society, thus the importance in quitting. The American Cancer Society says student’s perception of peer smoking is higher then the actual percentage smoking.

An example of this is from a survey at the University of Washington that the American Cancer Society accessed. The survey showed students at that university thought 94.4 percent of the student body smoked. The reality was 34.4 percent of the student body admitted to smoking.

Some students at Quinnipiac commented about the percentage of cigarette smoking here. All willing to comment, both smokers and non-smokers, gave percentages above the national percentage.

Sophomore non-smoker Loren Marcus said she thought 41 percent of people on campus smoked while another non-smoker Marie Canieso said she felt 68 percent of students here smoke. Beth Mangini, a sophomore cigarette smoker, said she thinks 65 percent of students on this campus smoke.

The American Cancer Society’s statistics say 28 percent of college smokers began to smoke regularly at or after age 19. At that time most students were already in college. College students who began smoking earlier often began smoking young, by the age of 14 according to TobaccoWeek.com. The American Cancer Society also shows freshmen as the most vulnerable population to start smoking. Being away from parental control, making their own health decisions, and hanging out with new friends who already may smoke contribute to new smoking.

In information from the 2000 U.S. Census, the Centers for Disease Control and U.S. Surgeon General’s Tobacco Report 75.1 percent of the total U.S. population is Caucasian, of which 25.3 percent use tobacco products. African-Americans make up 12.3 percent of the population, while 26.7 percent are reported to use tobacco products. Hispanics make up 12.5 percent of the population while 20.4 percent use tobacco products. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders make up 3.6 percent of the population while 16.9 percent report using tobacco. Indian and Alaska Natives make up less than 1 percent of the U.S. population and a reported 34.1 percent use tobacco products.

Given the high rate of smoking in college and the general population, it is suggested by those conducting research from various areas and the American Cancer Society that universities implement policies to prohibit smoking on campus. College students who did not smoke before age 19 were reported to be 40 percent more likely to smoke if they lived in a household where smoking was allowed.

Smoke-free college housing is attributed to protecting nonsmokers from becoming smokers in college. With high numbers suggested being in the smoking percentage at Quinnipiac one may wonder if smoke-free housing has done anything to prevent students from becoming smokers. On this campus students now often smoke socially and congregate outside buildings before classes with cigarette in hand.

One smoker, sophomore Lauren Buono, says smoking should be allowed in dorms and smoking only outside does not deter students from smoking or picking up the habit.

Smoke-free campuses are becoming increasingly popular due to the exposure of non-smokers to secondhand smoke and increased risk of fire. Campus smoking bans do not take away individuals’ right to smoke but help to eliminate the risk of harming others.

Quinnipiac is still in the minority of colleges that does not allow smoking in dorms. According to the American Cancer Society and the American Journal of College Health only 27 percent of colleges nationally prohibit smoking in dorms.

Nonsmokers are often thankful for smoke-free environments, including those in dorm rooms. The Journal of American Medicine Association estimated 53,000 nonsmokers die nationally as a result of secondhand smoke.

Secondhand smoke is a Class A carcinogen and is as poisonous as asbestos. Secondhand smoke can impact a nonsmoker just as much as a smoker. Cancer, emphysema, heart attacks and stroke are known problems from smoke affecting nonsmokers.

While it is noticeable that many smoke on this campus, it’s a trend spread across the nation. But do national statistics give reason for concern? The American Cancer Society says more Americans are killed by cigarettes than alcohol, car accidents, suicide, AIDS, homicide and illegal drugs. College cigarette smoking and the statistics surrounding it are something to think about next time you walk through the Quad and either take a puff of that cigarette or exhale a cloud of smoke someone else will soon inhale.


About Melissa Scagliola