Your average binge-drinking frat guy may be too busy funneling beer to chain smoke. A nonsmoker student riding in a car with a “heavy smoker” may be at greater health risk than a “puffer” who smokes once every few days.
A study done at
Previously, whether a college student smoked one or 300 cigarettes in the past 30 days, he or she was labeled a college smoker. However, recent nicotine and tobacco research done by Mark Wolfson at
A survey done of 1,102 past-month smokers from 10
The subclasses included "heavy smokers", “moderate smokers”, “social smokers”, “puffers”, and “no-context smokers.”
Because of the lack of homogeneity in previous college smoking studies, which used the previous definition of “college smokers”, new insight is found on what and when groups of college students are at the greatest health risk.
“Puffers” made up 26% of the
Surprisingly, Greek members are more likely to be “puffers” and “social smokers” (19% of NC college smokers sample) than “moderate smokers” (22%) or “heavy smokers” (28%).
Further, “puffers” and “social smokers”, which were more likely to be involved in Greek organizations than any other subclass, are also more likely to be current drinkers or binge drinkers than were “heavy smokers”.
The study surprisingly found evidence against the cliché of Greek members binging on every drug available. Although Greek members are smoking less than the average college student, they are binge drinking far more.
Wolfson’s study only covered smokers, just half of the concern of state officials. Universities across the state have been trying to eliminate sources of second-hand smoke for years.
For example, the
Wolfson surveyed 4,223 students (smokers and non-smokers) at 10 universities in
Sixty-five percent of college students surveyed were exposed to second-hand smoke in bars and restaurants. This puts upperclassmen at greatest risk, who are able to enter the 21-and-up bars as well as have enough money for $7 cocktails. However,
Fifty-five percent of students were exposed to secondhand smoke from being in the same room as a smoker at college students’ homes. Only 38% were exposed to secondhand smoke from being in the car with a smoker.
Although Greek members are not the heaviest smokers, the vast amounts of people at Greek events, and results showing an increase of smoking amount while binge drinking, caused an increased risk of secondhand-smoke exposure.
Wolfson’s studies split a previously homogenous group into five smaller homogenous groups to better determine when college students are at greatest risk, as well as which students are at greatest risk of secondhand-smoke exposure.For the anti-Greek like me, we finally have a study showing that you should not join a fraternity or sorority if you do not wish to increase your risk of become a binge drinker, become a casual smoker, or increase exposure to cancer-causing secondhand-smoke at every oh-so-fun Greek event.