Prevalence of tobacco use and attitudes towards quitting in students at the Burgos University
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Spanish Association Against Cancer, Spain
Burgos University, Burgos, Spain
Publication date: 2023-04-25
Corresponding author
C Sota Rodrigo
Spanish Association Against Cancer, Spain
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2023;9(Supplement):A68
Tobacco is considered by scientific societies as one of the main public health problems, known as the pandemic of the 21st century, with mortality rates of 8 million deaths per year (WHO, 2021). Smoking control will therefore require a strong political and social commitment with a change in the perception of risk (Llopiz et al.,2018). Globally, three out of five young people who try tobacco will become addicted smokers in adulthood (WHO, 2008 and PAHO, 2001). In the Survey on Alcohol and Other Drugs in Spain (EDADES), carried out by the Ministry of Health with the general population aged 15-64, 69.6% of the population have used tobacco at some time in their lives, 39.0% in the last year, 37.2% in the last month and 33.1% daily in the last month. Among daily smokers, 64.2% have considered quitting smoking, and 41.9% have considered quitting and tried to quit. Regarding e-cigarettes, 12.1% of people aged 15-64 have used e-cigarettes at some point in their lives, higher than in 2020 (10.5%), and almost double the 6.8% in 2015. (EDADES, 2022).

The aim of this study is to find out the prevalence of smoking and their attitudes towards quitting in a sample of university students under 30 years of age at the University of Burgos (UBU).

Material and Methods:
The university students were encouraged to participate by means of an anonymous online questionnaire, type forms, throughout the year 2022.

A sample of 349 participants, consisting of 85 men, 263 women and 1 non-binary gender, with an average age of 21 years. 39% had never smoked, 28% had tried it, 17% smoked daily, 10% smoked occasionally, 3% smoked at weekends and 3% were ex-smokers. Regarding the type of product, 38% use roll-your-own tobacco, 15% cigarettes, 1% joints, 3% report using vapes, in combination with other products such as roll-your-own tobacco, cigarettes and pipes, 39% combine cigarettes, joints, roll-your-own tobacco and pipes. Eight percent combine the use of pipes or hookahs with roll-your-own tobacco, cigarettes, joints and vapers and 12.5% use joints in combination with roll-your-own tobacco and cigarettes.Dependence levels measured by the Fagerström test show that 54% of respondents take more than 60 minutes to light up their first cigarette, 23% between 31-60m, 18% 6-30m and 4% less than 5 minutes. 74% have no problem with being in a place where smoking is not allowed, 81% do not consider the first cigarette in the morning the most important. 10% smoke more in the first few hours after waking up and 80% report not smoking when they are sick. 72% of self-identified smokers would like to quit smoking. When asked what options they consider to quit smoking, 62% consider their "willpower" to be enough, 16% consider face-to-face therapies, 6% an app, 3% drugs, 2% self-help books and 2% online therapies. When asked if they consider e-cigarettes, vapers or smokeless tobacco as a "less bad" alternative, 30% say no, 42% consider that it can in some cases, 19% do not know and 6% say yes.

The rates of daily smoking among young people are lower than those found in other studies such as the European Health Survey in Spain 2020 (EESE-2020), where 19.8% of the population over 15 years of age smoked. Young people between 25 and 34 years of age have the highest levels of consumption. This may be due to the lower cut-off age of 35 years and the socio-educational level of the respondents. Forty-one per cent of the students surveyed were in the experimentation phase. This is consistent with the idea that one in 10 adolescents in the world starts using tobacco between the ages of 13 and 15 (Lando et al., 2010), increasing in frequency and quantity during the adolescent years until reaching a peak around the age of 25, when it begins to decline (Chassin et al., 2004; Gil and Ballester, 2002). This fact, together with the high perception of control over consumption and the possibilities of quitting, could suggest that programmes aimed at primary prevention of consumption should be implemented rather than directing all efforts to a therapeutic intervention on quitting.

Smoking is preventable, we must move towards a society that de normalises tobacco consumption in all its forms in a common effort by government authorities and civil society. We can and must save the lives of millions of people, and the role of young people is key to ending the smoking pandemic. Universities, as tobacco-free environments, will take on special importance, both for the possibility of intervention in young people in the early stages of addiction, as well as for their educational and exemplary role. The focus is on multi-sectoral and multidisciplinary intervention, both in the general population and in at-risk groups, such as young people. Smoke-free laws are the means to protect the health of non-smokers and encourage smokers to quit (WHO, 2022).

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest with the tobacco industry.
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