Ashton Jordan began puffing at the tender age of 14. He initially sneaked his first cigarettes from his uncle and smoked in front of friends to look cool, however at 16 he already became a chain-smoker.
Now being a sophomore at mechanical engineering at the University of North Carolina, Jordan admits he uses to smoke sometimes while being in smoking environment, although he gave up smoking regularly.
Despite being aware of all health complications related to smoking, Jordan still lights up form time to time. He also says that all smoking bans and policies violate smokers’ rights and freedoms, since it was their voluntary decision to start smoking and therefore people should quit only if they want to, without any external pressure.
Student Smoking statistics
As it was mentioned before, students keep lighting up, despite being aware about all tobacco-related health complications. “Smoking is an essential part of my life, it wakes me up, helps in relaxing after lessons and if my friends around me want to smoke, I’ll definitely join them,” admitted Janine Spenser, a junior communications major at UNC. According to a survey of 200 North Carolina University students, 30 percent of them confirmed that they light up at least one cigarette a month, if not more often.
American Lung Association’s North Carolina Department declared that 31 percent of North Carolina students smoke. These numbers are decreasing in comparison to previous years however they are higher than averages across the nation.
Results of American Lung Association report the number of college students who used to smoke dropped by a half: from 30.5 percent in 2000 to 19.2 percent in 2006, making it a lowest level since 1980.
Campus smoking bans
Another thing that impacted heavily on the drop of smoking in colleges is the strict bans on smoking on campuses.
This policy becomes even more widespread each day since many universities throughout the country are implementing smoke-free policies on campuses. In accordance with Tobacco-free Kids survey, 16 campuses of the University of North Carolina and 14 other colleges located in the State of North Carolina have imposed on-campus smoking bans.
The UNC student handbook underlines that their facilities including campuses have been declared smoke-free areas, and smoking is allowed at the distance of at least 30 feet from the facilities.
Students believe that on-campus smoking bans violate their right to smoke. “While being outside you can move away from smoke,” Abbey Thomas, a hospitality student stated. “However, they do not let us smoke indoors and now they want to prohibit smoking outdoors on college territory, so we have just one single question – where can we smoke now?” complained Thomas. “It is not right of the college principals to dictate us what to do and what not to do.” It will only encourage students to rebel and break the rules. Limiting smoking to specific places is the best solution to me,”
The price increase
The main issue for every current smoker is the continuous increase in the price of cigarettes. Those recent increases put smokers in a very difficult situation, since the cost of lighting up has flown to the moon, getting to larger-than-life $10 per pack in New York and Rhode Island.
The prices back in North Carolina would as well go even higher in case the Gov. Bev Purdue proposal of $1 state tax increase would be approved by State Government. The proposal comes on the heels of the 156-percent increase in the Federal Cigarette tax that came into force on April 1, making it jump from 39 cents to $1.01 per pack. And don’t forget about those increases that were implemented by cigarette manufacturers in anticipation of sales declines starting from April.
Therefore, unbearable prices have already scared many students away from buying cigarettes, or simply make them switch to less expensive brands settle. Abbey Thomas, for instance, smoked Pall Malls but switched to DTCs just because they are not so expensive.
Ashton Jordan said that students are more likely to give up smoking because of high prices than other issues. He admitted that financial damage hurts students more than future health complications. Students would certainly give up if prices continue to rise, simply because they could not afford cigarettes any more.
The growing hookah popularity
There is one trend that has seen a dramatic growth in popularity among student communities across the nation. This is the hookah use. A hookah, largely popular in Arabic world is a pipe filled with water at the bottom and a special sort of flavored tobacco at the top. As a user inhales via hookah’s hose, the tobacco burns from the heated coals and the smoke is passed down through the pipe, and delivered to the user.
The major advantage of hookah is the possibility to use it simultaneously by many people. It helps to create a unique feeling of community between users that is very important in case of students. Moreover, according to psychologists, many smokers name being part of a smoking environment as the main reason to start smoking too, and a hookah pipe is the best thing to create such an environment.