Skip to main content
Research Article Research Article

National survey of college behavior shows cigarette use down but alternative tobacco use up

Among the key takeaways from the 2014 Monitoring the Future survey of full-time college students released by the University of Michigan in September 2015 is good news about the continuing downward trend in cigarette use by college students.

Download report

"The data on cigarette use is a success story for the tobacco control community, and for public education campaigns like truth®," said Robin Koval, CEO and president of Truth Initiative, which runs the award-winning youth tobacco education campaign truth. "Our campaigns, as well as those run by the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have targeted cigarettes, and we see continued impressive declines in this data. When you compare 2013 and 2014 responses, past 30-day cigarette use dropped from 14 percent to 13 percent. And when compared 2014 responses with 1999, when our organization was formed to end youth and young adult tobacco use, the rate has dropped by more than half – from 31 percent to 13 percent. The numbers are even better when you look at daily smoking, which has dropped from 19 percent in 1999 to only 5 percent in 2014.”

The data show some disappointing trends as well, particularly use of alternative tobacco products such as hookah. Hookah use jumped from 26 percent to 33 percent in just one year – that’s a substantial rise that brings with it real health dangers. Research suggests that during a one-hour hookah session a user may inhale smoke equivalent to 50 to 100 cigarettes.

College students are reporting past 30-day use of e-cigarettes at 9.7 percent.
Hookah use jumped from 26 percent to 34 percent in one year, survey shows.

Key takeaways


Use of flavored little cigars was reported at 9.8 percent


Use regular little cigars was 8.6 percent.


College students are reporting past 30-day use of e-cigarettes at 9.7 percent.


In that year, 16 percent of 10th-graders reported using an e-cigarette in the past 30 days, as did 17 percent of 12th graders.

Download report