College Smokers Ignore Health Risks

Young adults think they are invulnerable

By Colin Allen, published on July 1, 2003 - last reviewed on January 23, 2015

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

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.