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Do Cigarettes and School Books Go Hand in Hand?

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RALEIGH — There are many things you can do to keep your children from starting to smoke. But once they go off to college, they are on their own.

For a long time, universities did little in the way of smoking prevention. That is changing as more and more students are lighting up.

Almost 30 percent more students smoke today than six years ago. While smoking may begin for some in college, health officials say it does not end there.

"I find almost all the people I know now smoke cigarettes which is different from high school," said smoker Lauren Floyd.

Smoking has become part of the culture on college campuses includingUNC. That means as more students light up, non-smokers are looking the other way.

"There's always little groups of people who smoke, and nobody really says anything. I mean nobody has ever been really rude about anyone smoking," said smoker Tricaa Mason.

UNC did their own smoking study last year. More than a third of the students said they had smoked a cigarette within the last 30 days.

But, more than half of those students said they only smoked socially, and that is what really worries health officials.

"That's one of our major concerns. What starts out as a temporary habit, what starts out as a thing to do on Friday night with friends because of the nature of the drug, becomes an addiction," said Matt Sullivan, UNC substance abuse coordinator.

UNC officials began banning smoking in some dorms three years ago. Next year, almost half of the dorms will be smoke-free.

It is one way they hope to prevent students from starting a habit that may stick with them the rest of their lives.

"It sounds a little cliche, because everybody says 'I can stop any time I want,' but I have quit before and I don't think I'll smoke forever," said one student.

N.C. Stateis also trying to battle cigarette smoking on their campus. Just a few years ago, there were not any smoke-free dorms. Now, 40 percent of all student housing is smoke free.


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