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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2010 Jan 1;106(1):16-20. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2009.07.025. Epub 2009 Sep 16.

Smoking and drinking among college students: "it's a package deal".

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Department of Anthropology, University of Arizona, Emil Haury Building, Tucson, AZ 85721, United States.



This paper reports on qualitative research on smoking in contexts associated with drinking among college students. Although a plethora of survey research has shown a positive association between smoking and alcohol use, little attention has been given to the utility functions of these co-occurring behaviors.


Data are drawn from semi-structured interviews with college freshmen at a large Mid-western university in the U.S. (n=35). In addition, eleven focus groups with fraternity and sorority members were conducted (n=70). Interviews and focus groups focused on a range of issues including current smoking behavior, reasons for smoking, and smoking and drinking.


A review of qualitative responses reveals that smoking served multiple utility functions for this population including (1) facilitating social interaction across gender, (2) allowing one to structure time and space at a party, (3) enabling "party" smokers to smoke with fewer negative side effects, and (4) helping to calm one down when drunk.


Whereas smoking was stigmatized during the context of one's everyday life as a student, at parties while consuming alcohol, smoking was viewed as normative and socially acceptable. Preventive interventions are needed on college campus that target co-substance use and address widespread misperceptions about the harm of tobacco use and addiction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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