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Tobacco use by Massachusetts public college students: long term effect of the Massachusetts Tobacco Control Program


Objective: To assess tobacco use among Massachusetts public college students and compare students who attended high school in Massachusetts and were exposed to the Massachusetts Tobacco Control Program (MTCP) with students who attended high school outside Massachusetts and were unexposed to the programme.

Design: Analysis of the 1999 Massachusetts College Alcohol Survey.

Setting: Four year public colleges and universities in Massachusetts (n = 11).

Subjects: 1252 randomly selected students (response rate 56%).

Main outcome measures: Self report of current (past 30 day), past year, and lifetime use of cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco.

Results: One third of students had used a tobacco product in the past month and 46.4% had used tobacco in the past year. Cigarettes accounted for most of this tobacco use. Total tobacco use was higher among males than females but cigarette smoking did not differ by sex. Tobacco use was lower among athletes and higher among students who used alcohol or marijuana. Current tobacco use was lower among public college students who had attended high school in Massachusetts compared with those who attended high school in another state (31.5% v 42.6%, p = 0.006). This difference persisted after adjustment for age, sex, race, parental education, and students' college residence (adjusted odds ratio (OR) 0.67, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.46 to 0.97, p = 0.034).

Conclusion: Tobacco use is common among Massachusetts public college students. Students who were exposed to the MTCP during high school are less likely to use tobacco than their peers who were not exposed to this programme. The MTCP may have reduced tobacco use among this group of young adults.

  • epidemiology
  • prevalence
  • college students
  • university students
  • Massachusetts

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