College Smokers Ignore Health Risks

Apparently, the warnings aren't sinking in. Despite their addictive habit, young college smokers believe they are just as healthy as their non-smoking friends. A recent study of community college students finds that they are not worried about the health effects of tobacco use.

While smokers recognized that smoking causes long-term health risks, many did not believe those dangers applied to them. One quarter of the smokers said their habit did not impact their health in any way. Half felt that quitting would bring them little or no health benefit.

Smokers did not connect their respiratory troubles with their habit, even though 94 percent reported having at least one problem like shortness of breath or a persistent morning cough. Almost 90 percent said they had no symptoms or illnesses related to tobacco.

Some of the smokers did plan to quit, and these students were more likely to worry about their health and more likely to report health problems.

Alexander Prokhorov, a psychologist at the University of Texas, and colleagues conducted the survey of 1,283 Texan community college students. About 16 percent of those surveyed said they were currently smokers, and an additional 13 percent said they had smoked in the past. The study was published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

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