The Use of University Debit Cards for Purchasing Cigarettes: An Opportunity for Tobacco Use Prevention on University Campuses
Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, 2012, Vol. 19, No. 1 Pages 59-63
Aims:Young adults have the highest smoking rate of any age group in the United States. However, little is known about how young adults, including college students, access and pay for cigarettes – important information for guiding policies and prevention and intervention efforts. This study examined students’ use of university debit cards, which provide money intended for school-related purchases and living expenses, to purchase cigarettes.
Methods:Undergraduate students (N = 1302) at a large urban university completed an online survey during the spring 2009 semester. Students received a $10 gift card for completing at least 90% of the survey.
Findings:Among past 30-day smokers (n = 367), 42% purchased cigarettes with university debit cards and were more likely to be daily smokers, smoked more cigarettes per day and tended to be younger than those who used other purchasing methods only.
Conclusion:These data suggest that a significant number of students use their university debit cards to buy cigarettes, possibly increasing their access to cigarettes and contributing to their smoking behaviour. This trend may be more commonplace than parents or university administrators realize and should be considered when designing smoking prevention/intervention efforts as well as university policies.