Background: The tobacco epidemic is a heralding health menace, particularly among college students. Tobacco usage among young can have an especially devastating effect as they can be exposed for longer periods. Data to estimate the prevalence of tobacco use in young adults will be a valuable addition to the existing resources. Materials and
Methods: An analytical cross-sectional study was therefore carried out in Mangalore city using a pre-tested, self-administered questionnaire adapted from the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) with a representative sample of 720 students aged 18-20 years selected from degree colleges by multi-stage random sampling.
Results: Prevalence of ‘ever users’ and ‘current users’ of smoking were 20.4% and 11.4%, respectively. The mean age at initiation of cigarette smoking was 16 years and the majority (31 %) smoked in public places. Interestingly, 84% of them knew about the harmful effects of cigarette smoking. About one half of smokers had some or most of their friends smoking. Multivariate analysis revealed gender (OR=8.585: CI-3.26-22.5), pocket money (OR=4.165; CI=1.76-9.82) and peer’s smoking habit (OR= 5.15; CI 2.21-11.9) have higher odds as correlates of tobacco usage among college students.
Conclusions: It is of prime importance to highlight the role of prevention of smoking initiation rather than subsequently trying to stop the habit. Comprehensive interventions embracing family, friends and social milieu are needed to reduce tobacco use among students in India.