University of Rhode Island

Smoke-Free Home
Breathe Easy... We're Going Smoke-Free

American Cancer Society


~ Safe and Healthy Lives in Safe and Healthy Communities ~

URI Logo
Copyright © 2001
University of Rhode Island

Facts About College Smoking

College Students

Rates of College Smoking

    1. From 1993 to 1997, the prevalence of current (30-day) cigarette smoking rose by 27.8% in the college population.
    2. 28.5% of college students are current smokers.
    3. 28% of college smokers began to smoke regularly at or after age 19, at which point most were already in college.
    4. Seniors and 5th year students smoked less than younger students.
    5. Older students are less likely to smoke than younger students.
    6. Average age students said they tried their first cigarette was 14.
    7. 1/3 of smokers consider themselves "casual users".
    8. Tobacco use is higher among binge drinkers, students who have multiple sex partners or have "a strong party orientation".

Quitting for College Students

    Half of the current college smokers had tried unsuccessfully to quit in the previous year.

Marketing of cigarettes

    1. Tobacco companies have recently shifted their marketing strategies to target college students.
    2. Cigarettes are the tobacco product of choice for college students.


    College students are occasional cigar smokers. Less than 1% of current (past 30-day) cigar users smoked them daily. Currently, 8.5% of college smokers smoke cigars.


    Studentsí perception of peer smoking is higher than the actual rate. For example, a survey conducted at the University of Washington showed that students thought that 94.4% of the student body were smokers. In reality, only 34.4% of the student body smoked.


    From 1993 to 1997, there were 187 Fires caused by smoking in American Dormitories and Fraternity and Sorority Houses, which resulted in no deaths, 9 injuries and .6 million dollars in damage.



    1. Mattresses and bedding, upholstered furniture and trash were the items most often ignited by smoking materials in structure fires.
    2. According to 1993 to 1997 statistics, out of 12 major causes of structure fires, smoking materials ranked first for civilian fire deaths and third for civilian fire injuries.
    3. Most of the civilian deaths and injuries in smoking-material fires occur in residential structures. In 1997, 96.5 of all smoking-material fire deaths occurred in residential structures.


    1. Smoking is expensive.
    2. Smoking is NOT socially accepted.
    3. Smoking risks the health of others.

Cigarette smoking and cancer.

    1. Cigarette smoking is the major single cause of cancer mortality in the U.S.
    2. Smoking is the most preventable cause of premature death in our society.
    3. Cigarettes kill more Americans than alcohol, car accidents, suicide, AIDS, homicide and illegal drugs.
    4. Cigarette smoking is a major cause of cancers of the lung, larynx, oral cavity, pharynx and esophagus and is a contributing cause in the development of cancers of the bladder, pancreas, uterine, cervix, kidney, stomach, and some leukemias.
    5. Smoking is a major cause of heart disease, bronchitis, emphysema, and stroke and contributes to the severity of colds and psneumonia.