MSU survey reveals student smoking, drinking down
The number of students who drink and smoke regularly has gone down dramatically in the last 16 years, an MSU survey suggests. With data from more than 1,000 undergraduate students, the State of Spartan Health survey found a campus-wide decrease in drinking and smoking behaviors.
The survey, conducted every two years through MSU’s membership in the American College Health Association, ultimately found the number of students who drink and smoke regularly has continued to decrease every year since the survey was first implemented in 2000.
The show there has been an overall decrease in drinking by 9 percent and an overall decrease in smoking by 70 percent between the surveys conducted in 2000 and the survey conducted this year.
“We know that, overall, drinking has been going down for some time on this campus,” Dennis Martell, a health education services coordination at Olin Health Center, said. “Now, that doesn’t mean that we don’t have still challenging areas like celebratory events, where we run into the problem that everyone seems to approve of drinking in celebratory occasions and drinking more.”
The survey tracks approximately 42 different health issues, from drinking and smoking habits to mental health issues, to sexual behaviors and drug use.
This survey has also been used in the university by administration, student programs and admissions.
This summer, MSU became a tobacco-free campus. While the switch helped lower the level at which students smoke, smoking behaviors have been going down in society for years, Martell said. This year alone, 89 percent of students reported either not smoking at all or not smoking in the past month, according to a press release from MSU’s media communications department.
“Going to a smoke-free campus is a move by the university not only to be tobacco-free, but to send a sign to everyone that we are investing in a culture of health,” Martell said.
Among other findings, 5.8 percent of students this year reported that alcohol negatively affected their academic performance, and this number was more than 10 percent in 2000, according to the press release.
Overall, the role of the survey is not to tell students what to do, but to give students information to let them make informed decisions, Martell said. The survey also provides participants with feedback about their own behaviors.
“What we do with the survey is try to help students be academically and socially successful,” Martell said.