Opinions about Smoking Policies, Exposure to Secondhand Smoke, and Smoking Behaviors of Freshman College Students

Faculty Sponsor

Theresa Kessler and Elise Alverson





Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 5-2-2015


The purpose of this project was to assess freshman college students’ opinions of smoking policies, secondhand smoke exposure, and smoking behaviors within a smoke-free campus. The Transtheoretical Model (Prochaska & DiClemente, 1983) provided the framework for this project. An on-line cross-sectional survey was emailed to all freshman students at a private, Midwestern university from 2011 through 2014. The survey contained 56 questions. A total of 1,294 freshman responded yielding a 42.9% response rate. The majority of the subjects were female (59%) and white (85%). Twenty-eight percent were unaware campus is smoke-free. While 75% of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the campus should be smoke-free, 68% reported seeing students smoking on campus. Twenty-two percent of the freshman students were exposed to secondhand, and 46% indicated they have friends who smoke. Ninety-one percent indicated they would rather date a non-smoker. Fourteen percent (n = 139) indicated they smoked during the previous 30 days, but only 48 (26%) of these smokers would consider themselves a “smoker”. Smoking was reported as a social behavior with 94% indicating they smoked with others. Based on the TTM stages of change, intentions to abstain from smoking were assessed. Twenty-two smokers (14%) decided to stop smoking within the next month and had a quit date. Forty-one (27%) did not think smoking was a problem and did not plan to quit. Findings indicated that the rate of smoking behaviors of freshman students was similar to national college data. These data are being used to form a foundation for an evidence-based project on smoking abstinence.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

The research team consists of three seniors and two junior nursing students and two faculty mentors. Students have responsibility for developing the online survey, monitoring the survey distribution and collection, and analyzing the data. The workload is distributed evenly amongst the students with the seniors taking a leadership role. The poster background, design, and layout were prepared by the student team with direction from the faculty mentors.

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