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The 13th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health
Building capacity for a tobacco-free world
July 12-15, 2006, Washington, DC, USA
Objective: Although most smoking initiation occurs in adolescence, young adults remain at risk for initiating smoking. We investigated how college students' parental relationships, peer relationships, high school connectedness, and connectedness to college were related to smoking initiation during college.
Methods: From all 40 English, post-secondary institutions in Ontario, Canada, a representative sample of 12 2-year colleges and 11 4-year universities was selected. All full-time students received an email invitation to complete an online questionnaire addressing: their own, their friends', and their family members' tobacco use; and their past and current parental and peer relationships and school connectedness. Participants could win a $10 gift certificate.
Results: More than 10,000 post-secondary students provided data. Preliminary analyses have been conducted with a subsample of respondents; analyses with the full sample will be completed by March, 2006. Preliminary results suggest that, compared to participants who initiated smoking in adolescence, those who started during young adulthood had family members and room mates who smoked less often, felt less connected to their high school but more connected to their college, and believed fewer of their high school peers but more of their university peers smoked cigarettes.
Conclusion: Among post-secondary students, factors that protected them from initiating smoking in adolescence may not extend into young adulthood. Late smoking initiation may be associated with perceiving smoking as a normative behavior on campus. To improve smoking prevention efforts, it will be important to target young adults as well as teens.