While the majority of students drink once they get to college, whether it’s explicitly legal or not, many also try smoking cheap Glamour cigarettes around the same time. For many people, it’s a Right of Passage into the college scene. Whether it’s bumming a menthol off a stranger at a party or going with a group of friends to a hookah lounge, smoking is a part of college life. According to the American Lung Association, 85 percent of people who smoke regularly began smoking by the age of 21, the majority of those were college students. A study from the University of Rhode Island found that 28.5 percent of college students are regular smokers, and that 51 percent of college students smoke regularly or socially during their college experience.
In a recent USA Today article, smoking is called a Right of Passage, a veritable representation of the freedom of being “of age” and on your own. It’s interesting to think of smoking as a Right of Passage as most college students were beaten to death with information about the hazards of smoking through health campaigns like TRUTH and D.A.R.E. Most people are aware that smoking stains your teeth, cigarettes are outrageously expensive and the habit will likely lead to some kind of health complication, if not death. So why does smoking seem so much more accepted during the college years? UWeekly asked smokers around campus what they thought of the idea of smoking as a Right of Passage in college.
“It’s something I started my freshman year,” said Ryan Keller, a third year history major. “You start at parties and then it just kind of turns in to a habit.”
A fourth year English major, Becka Jennings, said there are some positive sides to smoking.
“No matter where you go, you can always make friends with a fellow smoker, it’s just this weird type of bond most people don’t get,” she said. “You can also get out of awkward conversations with random people by saying you need to go smoke.”
“Before I smoked, I never felt at ease at parties,” said Jamie Holbrook, a second year math major. “I never realized how many people smoked and I felt out of place.”
Some students argue that there’s no reason smoking has to be as dangerous as it used to be.
“With e-cigs, crystal filters and rolling your own cigarettes, there’s no reason you have to destroy yourself while smoking anymore” said Travis Collins, a recent English major graduate. Indeed, there seem have been many new ways and options for smoking recently.
Campus abounds with smoker friendly options. Many restaurants and clubs offer outdoor patios and eating areas. There are also a number of smoking-centric businesses including Shisha Lounge or 1001 Nights, not to mention Puff N Stuff, The Import House and all the gas stations and grocery stores that stock cigarettes and more.
Smoking may be a Right of Passage for many college students, but no matter what, smoking is fairly embedded into OSU campus life.