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The Relationship of Smoking Status to Alcohol Use, Problems, and Health Behaviors in College Freshmen


  • This work was done in collaboration with the Santa Clara University Office of Student Life. The authors would like to thank Matthew Duncan, Ngoc Nguyen-Mains, and Nora Jamison-Danko for their assistance throughout this project. Institutional and financial support for this study was provided by the Santa Clara University Office of Student Life as part of their ongoing alcohol prevention programming. A subset of this study was previously presented at the 27th Meeting of the Society for Behavioral Medicine, San Francisco, CA.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Amie L. Haas, Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, Palo Alto University, 1791 Arastradero Rd., Palo Alto, CA 94304. E-mail:


Differences in drinking, consequences, and perceptions were examined between alcohol-using college students by smoking status (current, past, and lifetime nonsmoker). Entering freshmen (N = 558: 45% male, 72% Caucasian, age = 18) completed a questionnaire assessing smoking, drinking and current health perceptions. Results indicated current smokers drank more frequently, were more likely to drink to intoxication, and had more physiological consequences (e.g., blackouts, coordination problems) than past or lifetime nonsmokers, but past smokers also reported riskier drinking than lifetime nonsmokers. Despite a higher prevalence of alcohol-related health problems in both current and past smokers, no current health differences were found. Results replicate findings that current smokers are at increased risk for problematic drinking and identify past smokers as another risk group.