Students Smoking Behavior Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :

Student Smoking Behavior

Given that the health risks of smoking are very well-known, one would think that smoking would be rare behavior among college students. After all, the average college student is not only young enough to have been exposed to anti-smoking education throughout their lifetimes, but might also values education more than their same-age peers who are not students. However, according to the research, young people, including college students, do smoke. In fact, college students may actually smoke more than their peers outside of college. What this suggests is that there is a social factor linked to smoking behavior. As a result, I would expect to be able to observe more students smoking when in social situations than in non-social situations.


I began with three assumptions about smoking behavior. The first assumption was that approximately one-third of observed college students would smoke. The second assumption was that students would be more likely to smoke in a social environment than in a school environment. The third assumption was that students who smoked would not self-identify as smokers. To test these assumptions, I engaged in basic observation of students in two environments: in a quad on campus where smoking is not prohibited and in a bar. Then, if students were observed to be smoking, I approached them to ask them about their smoking habits, concentrating on whether they self-identified as smokers or social smokers.


Watching the quad for one hour, I attempted to keep track of the number of students I saw enter into the quad and the number of them who were smoking. It was difficult to count the number of people in the quad, so my numbers are not scientific. I observed approximately 214 students enter the quad in a one hour period. Of those 214 students, I observed 22 students smoking. I was unable to approach all of the students that I saw smoking, but was able to approach 18 of them. Of the ones I approached, 16 agreed to answer my questions. Ten of them self-identified as smokers, while the other 8 identified as occasional or primarily social smokers. However, each of them acknowledged smoking on a daily basis for the past week.

At a bar for an hour, I observed 94 people in a bar near campus, not including wait staff or the band that was performing. Of those 94 people, I observed 41 smoke within the hour I was in the bar. Fewer than half of those smokers agreed to answer my questions. Of the 20 people that did agree to answer my questions, 15 of them identified as social smokers, and only 5 as smokers. Of the 20, 9 said that they had smoked on a less-than-daily basis that week. All of the subjects who said that they smoked on a less-than-daily basis self-identified as social smokers rather than as smokers.

Sociocultural Influences

The results suggested that there is a highly social component of smoking behavior. In general, smoking is seen as an unacceptable behavior. Therefore, even people who were observed smoking were reluctant to identify themselves as smokers. Instead, they made attempts to differentiate themselves from smokers by qualifying their behavior, often claiming that they were occasional or social…

Sources Used in Document:


Levinson, A., Campo, S., Gascoigne, J., Jolly, O., Zakharyan, A., & Vu Tran, Z. (2007).

Smoking, but not smokers: Identity among college students who smoke cigarettes. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 9(8), 845-852.

Schorr, M. (2013, August 13). A third of college students smoke. Retrieved February 5, 2014

from ABC News website:

Cite This Research Paper:

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