Send to

Choose Destination
Nicotine Tob Res. 2014 Jun;16(6):743-52. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntt205. Epub 2014 Jan 10.

Smoking patterns and their relationship to drinking among first-year college students.

Author information

Center for Addiction Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA;



Unlike older smokers, young adult smokers frequently engage in light and intermittent smoking. It remains unclear how stable such smoking patterns are over time, as substantial variability exists between these smokers. This study identified subgroups of college student smokers based on the trajectory of their smoking frequency during the first year of college, thereby examining stability versus instability over time. We then tested if the interplay between drinking and smoking differed in the identified groups to determine the relative role drinking may play in intermittent versus more regular smoking.


Incoming college students at 3 institutions completed online biweekly surveys of their daily substance use throughout the first year of college. Students who reported smoking at least 1 cigarette during this year (n = 266) were included in analyses (70% female, 74% White).


Group-based trajectory modeling identified 5 groups of smokers, 3 of which maintained their smoking frequency throughout the year (77%), and 2 groups of infrequent smokers showed significant trends (11% increasing, 12% decreasing). Notably, nondaily smoking was maintained at different specific frequencies (e.g., 1 vs. 3 days per week). Identified groups differed in the relationship between drinking and smoking, where cooccurrence was particularly strong among infrequent smokers, and trends in smoking quantity differed between groups.


While there was a diversity of smoking patterns in the sample, patterns of intermittent smoking remain relatively stable for a majority of students throughout the year. Intervention messages targeting drinking and smoking should be tailored on the basis of smoking frequency.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center