A new study by University of Kentucky researchers found that roughly 15 percent of college students who had ever used tobacco currently use more than one tobacco product. Polytobacco use (using more than one tobacco product) drives nicotine addiction and can prolong the use of tobacco products, leading to acute and chronic negative health risks such as lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and more.
For the study, published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research, UK researchers randomly selected 10,000 college students from a large public university in the Southeast to participate in an online survey about tobacco use and attitudes; they received 1,593 responses.
Polytobacco users in the study were more likely to smoke hookah, or waterpipe, and electronic cigarettes than single users who are more likely to smoke conventional cigarettes. Tobacco users who use more than one tobacco product report more signs of dependence than those who smoke only cigarettes or only use smokeless tobacco.
In addition to cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, new tobacco delivery products like e-cigarettes and hookah or waterpipe smoking have become trendy among the college crowd. The use of more than one of these tobacco products in college students is increasing in popularity, increasing the likelihood of a preventable, tobacco-related disease and premature death in this population.
"Public health is fighting an uphill battle against the deep pockets of the tobacco companies that aggressively market, sell, and distribute hookah and electronic smoking devices around college campuses," said Ellen J. Hahn, senior scientist in UK's College of Nursing and study co-author.
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Karen M. Butler et al. Polytobacco Use Among College Students, Nicotine & Tobacco Research (2016). DOI: 10.1093/ntr/ntv056