Cigarettes and alcohol – student smokers drink three times as much22 September 2020
Students who smoke drink three times as many units as their non-smoking peers, according to a new study looking at drinking habits of students across nine years.
The paper, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, studied self-reported drinking patterns of more than a thousand students from three universities.
Among the 69% of students who drank, the researchers found that white students drank five times as much as other ethnicities, that there was a strong pattern of drinking associated with being physically active, and that smokers drank three times as much as non-smokers.
Lead researcher Sunbal Naureen Bhatti from the University of Reading said:
“The findings about heavier drinking being associated with smoking is perhaps not the most surprising, but is very important for considering interventions to promote sensible drinking. While this paper didn’t look directly at the reasons why this is the case, we understand that factors such as peer behaviour may be leading smokers to drink more heavily.
“One of the more interesting findings is that those who engage in excessive screen-time activities actually drink a lot less. While common sense may lead us to believe that the more time you spend sitting, the more common it is to binge drink without realising how many drinks one has had, it seems the opposite is true here.
“There are other downsides to sedentary hobbies such as the development of obesity and associated health issues. This research is not advocating for less exercise, but it does provide a better picture of the types of activities and groups that may be at risk of binge or excessive drinking.
The paper uses nine years of data from first and second year students across sites at the University of Reading, University of Surrey and University Centre Farnborough to highlight which groups are at most risk of heavy alcohol consumption.
Sunbal Naureen Bhatti said:
“It is important for reiterating to health policy makers and the general public that alcohol intake is still a problem and a prevalent one particularly within UK universities. Our study builds up an empirical picture of the characteristics and behaviours that may lead to heavy drinking in students, and means that Universities and public health bodies have access to evidence to target sensible drinking interventions in the right places.
Bhatti, S.N., Fan, L.M., Collins, A., and Li, J.M, 2020, Exploration of Alcohol Consumption Behaviours and Health-Related Influencing Factors of Young Adults in the UK, Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health, 17(17), 6282; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17176282