Tobacco Issues

Sky-High Smoking Rates at Junior Colleges

A survey of community colleges conducted in 2000 shows sky-high smoking rates among younger students in San Mateo County. More than 44% of the students at Cañada College and nearly 50% of the students at Skyline College reported that they had smoked cigarettes within the past 12 months.

White students reported the heaviest tobacco use—Nearly 56% of Cañada students and 62.5% of Skyline students. Latinos reported usage rates of 29.1% at Cañada and 40.7% at Skyline. Asian/Pacific Islanders reported rates of 48.3% at Skyline and 18.8% at Cañada. African Americans reported rates of 20% at Cañada and 33.3% at Skyline.

The survey was completed by 405 Cañada students and 136 Skyline students. Most of the respondents were 18-24 years old.

The new community college survey showed that 10.6% of Skyline students and 8.7% of Cañada students began smoking at age 18 or older.

Most of the smokers (66.4% at Cañada and 71.1% at Skyline) said they had tried unsuccessfully to quit.

Students at both schools felt that exposure to secondhand smoke was a higher risk than smoking "a few cigarettes per day."

A separate study showed slightly lower rates at the College of San Mateo (39%) and Contra Costa College (38%). The rates for young adults ages 18-24 are higher than for younger adolescents in San Mateo County. According to a survey conducted two years ago by the County Tobacco Prevention Program, 37% of high school juniors had smoked a cigarette within the past 12 months.

One-fifth of the students on both Cañada and Skyline campuses reported tobacco use on a regular basis. They said they smoked on 11 or more days in the previous months. Fourteen per cent of Cañada respondents and 10.6% of Skyline respondents said they smoked 11 or more cigarettes per day.

On All College Campuses

Smoking is rising on college campuses. By 1997, 25% of college students at commuter schools were smokers, up from 19% in 1993, as reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), 11/18/98.

While most smokers begin using tobacco as teenagers, the same recent study found an amazing 28% of college smokers began to smoke regularly, and 11% had their first cigarette, after age 19.

Influence of Industry Marketing

The rise in college-age smoking has paralleled the tobacco industry's increased targeting of college-age young adults with advertising and promotions, like special events and give-aways in nightclubs.

Tobacco advertising's effectiveness

We see that young smokers' selection of the most advertised brands increases through the teen years, with 88% of 12th graders using Marlboro, Newport or Camel cigarettes, the three most heavily advertised brands.
(From an annual survey of teen substance use conducted by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research, reported 4/4/99 in a news release by the US DHHS.)

Society's focus on keeping youth from using tobacco ironically has allowed the tobacco industry to frame smoking as an "adult habit" and a rite of passage - a clear appeal to teenagers and young adults.

On the other hand, researchers have found that restricting public smoking has a strong impact on teenage smoking behavior (Wasserman et al. in the Journal of Health Economics, 1991). The authors explain this effect by noting that teenagers "may be even more sensitive to how others view their behavior than adults."

Links to Other Tobacco Control Programs

Action on Smoking and Health
Everything about smoking and non-smokers' rights

American Lung Association

California State Tobacco Control
Info about adult/youth smoking, secondhand smoke, impotence...

Centers for Disease Control
The Federal Government's anti-tobacco site

Tobacco Free Kids

Tobacco Use in California

The Truth Campaign
The Federal Government's Anti-Tobacco Campaign

Youth Media Network
Everything about kids and smoking, games, prizes....

Thinking of quitting? Ready to make an attempt? Here are a few resources:

American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine 415-282-9603
Community Clinic located at 455 Arkansas Street, San Francisco, between
19th and 20th. Services include addiction therapy for smoking and drugs, plus many other areas of health maintenance. You can call the admissions number above, or reach the clinic Dean, Kaylah Cheryl Sterling, L.Ad. at 415-282-9603, extension 19. Fees: Sliding scale. Call the clinic today for more information.

American Lung Association 650-994-5864
1. N-O-T, Not on Tobacco - A Total Health Approach to Helping Teens Stop
Smoking." Call today if you would like a group to start at Canada College.

2. Freedom From Smoking® - Group Clinics Classes will be starting soon for adults and youth. Uninsured participants may qualify for free nicotine patches.
Call today to register!

California Smokers Helpline 1-800-No-Butts 1-800-766-2888
…A telephone program that can help you quit smoking, or chewing tobacco." Services are free. Funded by the Department of Health, since 1992. A friendly staff person will offer a choice of services, whether you are ready to quit or just thinking about it. Kaiser Permanente Medical Center

Redwood City: 650-299-2433 South San Francisco: 650-742-2439
1. Calling it Quits - Single-session class teaches you: how tobacco effects the body, how to develop an action plan to quit, etc. You receive information about nicotine replacement. Nominal fee for members and non-members. Call today to learn when the next session is offered. (3 hours)

2. Freedom From Cigarettes - 8 sessions; evening and day sessions offered.
The program views smoking as an addiction, using combined class and support group format; draws on shared experiences to help prevent relapse. Kaiser members and non-members. Call today to learn when the next program starts.

San Mateo County Tobacco Prevention Program (TPP) Hotline: 650-802-6545
The main objectives include: 1) to reduce tobacco use among residents in the county; 2) to reduce the community's exposure to secondhand smoke; 3) to reduce youth access to tobacco products; and 4) to counter pro-tobacco
advertising and promotion. Community members, business owners, school personnel and students, and law enforcement agencies are invited to call out Hotline to obtain educational materials and resources, referrals to cessation services, clarification on tobacco control laws, or to inquire / request training or technical assistance on tobacco related issues. Community members: Please call the Hotline to report bars and other work places that are not smoke free!