Psychological Problems and Psychosocial Predictors of Cigarette Smoking Behavior among Undergraduate Students in Malaysia


Background: Cigarette smokers have their own motivation and justification to smoke. For example, smokingreduces their stress or enhances their pleasure. This study aimed to identify the (a) prevalence of cigarettesmokers among undergraduates in Malaysia, (b) gender differences in nicotine dependence among currentsmokers, (c) differences in psychological problems (depression, anxiety and stress) based on the status of smokingcigarettes (current, former and non-smokers) and (d) extent to which precipitating factors (tension reduction,addiction, automatism, handling, social interaction, pleasure, and stimulation) predict the smoking behavioramong current smokers. Materials and
Methods: In this study 780 undergraduate students participated froma private university in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor state in Malaysia. The Depression, Stress and AnxietyScale, Modified Reason for Smoking Scale and Fagerstrom Nicotine Dependence Test were used to measurepsychological problems, predictors of smoking behavior and nicotine dependency among current smokers.
Results: The results showed that 14.7%(n=106) of the students were smokers. Current smokers exhibited morepsychological problems (depression, anxiety and stress) compared to former and non-smokers. Addiction, tensionreduction, pleasure and automatism were predictors of smoking behavior among the current smoking students.Step wise regression analysis showed that smoking behavior was highly predicted by nicotine dependency oraddiction. Smoking students were motivated to smoke cigarettes as they believed that it reduced their tensionand enhance pleasure.
Conclusions: Hence, there is a need for health promotion and anti-tobacco preventionas cigarette smokers experience more psychological problems. Nicotine dependency or addition was one of themajor causes for smoking behavior among the student population in Malaysia.