Presenter: Michelle A. Laws
Advisor(s): Michael Schulman
Author(s): Michelle A. Laws, Chien Ju Huang, Ph.D., Rhonda  C. Conerly, Ph.D, and Al Richmond MSW
Graduate Program: Sociology

Title: Cigarette Smoking Among College Students Attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Abstract: Very little is known about the prevalence, social norms, and patterns of smoking among students attending historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). To date, much of the research on tobacco use among the college student population has used data from majority white colleges and universities. The current study investigates the prevalence, patterns, and norms associated with tobacco use among college students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities. A random sample of 1741 undergraduate college students attending five HBCUs in North Carolina completed survey interviews. Eighty-seven percent of the respondents were non-smokers and 84% percent responded that smoking was discouraged among their peers. The study found a statistically significant relationship between parent’s past history of smoking and student’s smoking behavior. Only 10.6% of students whose parents were nonsmokers when they were growing up are current smokers. Among those students whose parents (both) smoked when they were growing up, 21.8% are current smokers. Regression analysis found that gender, depression, and peer influences are major factors contributing to students’ decisions on smoking. The most significant factor is depression. Students who experience depressive symptoms are more likely to smoke and to seriously consider stopping smoking. In addition, there were statistically significant differences in reasons for smoking by race. African American smokers are more likely to smoke because of the sensation (how it made them feel) while White and “Other” smokers are more likely to smoke as a social tool or habit they can not control. Results of this study show that smoking is not widely practiced and is not an encouraged norm among college students attending HBCUs.