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Disabil Health J. 2013 Jul;6(3):204-12. doi: 10.1016/j.dhjo.2013.01.011. Epub 2013 Mar 17.

Cigarette smoking among college students with disabilities: National College Health Assessment II, Fall 2008-Spring 2009.

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  • 1West Virginia Prevention Research Center and School of Public Health, West Virginia University, 1 Medical Center Drive, P.O. Box 9190, Morgantown, WV 26506-9190, USA.



People with disabilities are 1.5 times more likely to smoke than their peers without disabilities, intensifying risk of health related disparities and further loss of function. When compared with the general population, college students also have a higher smoking prevalence. This study explores smoking rates among college students with disabilities.


College students with disabilities have an increased likelihood of smoking, as compared with students without disabilities. Type of disability also influences smoking rates.


This study explores the association between smoking and disability using multiple regression analyses and data from the National College Health Assessment II (NCHA II), Fall 2008-Spring 2009 (N = 79,915). People with disabilities comprised 15.6% of the total sample: 3.4% reported a physical disability, 8.3% reported a mental disability, 2.5% reported a sensory disability, and 3.7% reported a learning disability.


Smoking prevalence among those reporting disabilities was 23.1% versus 15% in those without disabilities. Those reporting mental disabilities had the highest rates (29.9%), followed by those with learning disabilities (23.7%), sensory disabilities (19.8%), and physical disabilities (16.4%). Students with disabilities were 1.23 times more likely to report current smoking than those without any disabilities, controlling for other factors (OR 1.23, 95% CI 1.16-1.30).


Results are consistent with previous research regarding the general adult population. Epidemiologic data demonstrating differences in risk behaviors for young adults with disabilities are important in allocation of resources. Findings of this study highlight the need for tailored smoking cessation programs for college students with disabilities.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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