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Am J Public Health. 2007 Aug;97(8):1427-33. Epub 2007 Jun 28.

A closer look at smoking among young adults: where tobacco control should focus its attention.

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American Legacy Foundation, Washington, DC 20036, USA.



We sought to fill gaps in knowledge of smoking behaviors among college-educated and non-college-educated young adults.


We used data from the 2003 Tobacco Use Supplement of the Current Population Survey to analyze smoking behaviors among young adults aged 18-24 years and older young adults aged 25-34 years by college status (enrolled, or with a degree, but not enrolled) and other measures of socioeconomic position.


Current smoking prevalence among US young adults aged 18-24 years who are not enrolled in college or who do not have a college degree was 30%. This was more than twice the current smoking prevalence among college-educated young adults (14%). Non-college-educated young adults were more likely than were college-educated young adults to start smoking at a younger age and were less likely to have made a quit attempt, although no differences were found in their intentions to quit. Higher rates of smoking in the non-college-educated population were also evident in the slightly older age group.


Non-college-educated young adults smoke at more than twice the rate of their college-educated counterparts. Targeted prevention and cessation efforts are needed for non-college-educated young adults to prevent excess morbidity and mortality in later years.

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