Cigarette smoking among university students aged 18-24 years in New Zealand: Results of the first (baseline) of two national surveys (2019)
Type of ContentJournal Article
- Health: Journal Articles 
Objectives: Although the smoking prevalence continues to decline in New Zealand (NZ) overall, little is known about smoking in university students. A 2013 survey of students aged 17-25 years found that 14% were current smokers, and 3% daily smokers. However, the sample did not include students from all NZ universities. This study examines the prevalence and patterns of cigarette smoking among students aged 18-24 years.
Setting: University students across NZ.
Methods: Data came from a March to May 2018 survey of students from all NZ universities, and were weighted to account for undersampling and oversampling, based on gender and university size. χ 2 tests were used to compare smoking by age, gender and ethnicity.
Participants: 1476 participants were included: 919 (62.3%) aged 18-20 years and 557 (37.7%) aged 21-24 years; 569 (38.6%) male and 907 (61.4%) female; and 117 (7.9%) Maori and 1359 (92.1%) non-Maori.
Results: 49.8% (95% CI 47.2 to 52.4) of respondents reported ever smoking, 11.1% (95% CI 9.5 to 12.9) currently smoked (smoked at least once a month) and 5.9% (95% CI 4.8 to 7.3) smoked at least daily (daily smokers). Of current smokers, 63.6% smoked 1-5 cigarettes/day, 45.8% smoked daily, 73.4% smoked first cigarette >60 min after waking, 86.0% never/almost never smoked in indoor and 64.6% in outdoor smokefree spaces, 69.9% planned to quit and 32.4% had tried to quit. Ever, current and daily smoking were significantly higher in 21-24 compared with 18-20 years olds, and in males compared with females. Older participants were more likely to report smoking more cigarettes/day. Maori were more likely to report ever smoking than non-Maori.
Conclusions: Current smoking among NZ university students aged 18-24 years appears to be declining but daily smoking could be increasing. However, many students appeared less addicted to nicotine, and willing to quit. We recommend increasing the availability of smokefree services for students who wish to quit.
CitationWamamili B, Wallace-Bell M, Richardson A, Grace RC, Coope P (2019). Cigarette smoking among university students aged 18-24 years in New Zealand: Results of the first (baseline) of two national surveys. BMJ Open. 9(12). e032590-.
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KeywordsNew Zealand; cigarette smoking; cross-sectional survey; prevalence; university students
ANZSRC Fields of Research42 - Health sciences
RightsAll rights reserved unless otherwise stated
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