Taking Play Seriously: Low-Level Smoking Among College Students

Cigarettes have been socially engineered to become potent symbols.

Therefore, they need to be understood as cultural products invested with cognitive and emotional salience as well as nicotine delivery devices engineered to create a population of dependent users.

In this paper, we look at the symbolism of cigarettes, but unlike many researchers examining this topic, we attend as much to what tobacco users do with cigarettes as to what smoking means to them cognitively.

Based on interviews with low-level smokers conducted on two college campuses, we suggest that students use tobacco in order to accomplish interactional goals and to structure social time and space that would otherwise be ambiguously defined.

By conceptualizing this structuring activity as play, we gain valuable insights into early stages and trajectories of tobacco use among college students.

Our conceptualization of smoking as play is not meant to trivialize low-level tobacco use. Much the opposite, we caution that the contexts in which low-level smoking takes place and the utility functions of such smoking must be taken seriously by researchers in light of current increases in tobacco use among college students.

Dog Pointing the Way What that? Nicotine delivery devices!

From: Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry
An International Journal of Comparative Cross-Cultural Research

2 thoughts on “Taking Play Seriously: Low-Level Smoking Among College Students

  1. iesha

    I attend Arizona State University where tobacco use on campus is a huge problem. Approximately 5% of the students on campus use tobacco daily. This has become such a huge issue that the wellness network has created “the tobacco group.”

    The group’s goal is to make students aware of the effect of smoking and encourage them to quit. The smokers on campus are not the only ones affected by the tobacco use. Innocent bystanders are subject to the clouds of toxic smoke every day. It is so horrible to have to walk on campus and be subject to the fumes of the cigarettes.

    I feel like students who smoke do not really realize how harmful it is to their health. Although we may know a lot about tobacco and its effects there is still a lot more to be discovered about the side effects. Tobacco is terribly addicting. Cigarettes are filled with more than 4,000 chemicals. As we all know college can be an extremely stressful time, I have heard a number of students state that smoking a cigarette calms them down. There needs to be a healthier alternative to tobacco use.

    I think that the rise in tobacco use in youth has a huge deal to do with tobacco companies targeting youth. I recently went to the store and purchased an issue of Vogue and US Weekly. These are two of my favorite magazines. Especially Vogue, I love fashion and if something is in Vogue is it defiantly fashionable and cool. Both of these magazines had tobacco ads in them. If I did not know any better I would think that tobacco is cool or “in” due to the fact that it is advertised in two of the hottest magazines in America.

    Every month you can pick up the hottest teen magazines and find a tobacco add. They make them look cool or cute so that they attract the young and naive. One tobacco company has stated that they target young because it is the only way to ensure success. If they start smoking highly addictive tobacco at a young age then they are a consumer for life.

    Approximately 4,000 youth between the ages of 12 and 17 try their first cigarette every day. You are most impressionable when you are young so I think that smoking starts out as a social thing and soon turns into an addiction. When these young teens see tobacco portrayed as something cool, they are attracted to it.

    Something must be done about the smoking epidemic. Everyday people die from tobacco related diseases. As long as young teens begin to smoke the longer people will continue to die. Even if you do not use tobacco yourself you are still affected by the second hand smoke, which in most cases can be just as or even more deadly as first hand smoke. As young adults we are the future, but we will have no future if we continue to use tobacco. College campuses around the world should come together to fight the problem of tobacco use on campus.

  2. robbster

    Good Morning Iesha 🙂

    Thank you for such thoughtful and enlightening comments. I thought that teen magazines were not supposed to have tobacco advertising? Is this young adult magazines that teens read?

    There are a lot of organizations fighting the good fight to get people educated about smoking and smoking-related diseases. Big tobacco obviously needs to get smoking replacements for all the people that their product kills over time.

    The tobacco industry also knows if they go after the child/adolescent age group that they can groom them to view smoking as glamorous and also encourage a highly deceptive “positive” image supportive of teen smoking.

    Big tobacco spends exorbitant amounts of money on advertising. In Rolling Stone’s Nov. 15 issue they advertised the magazines 40th anniversary. This included one great big cigarette ad insert for camel ads promoting a campaign and Web site devoted to “free range music.”

    Are you able to form an educational anti-tobacco group at your campus? What is the smoking policy at your campus? Feel free to write me off the blog by utilizing the “contact us” link that is located on the right menu under info.

    I appreciate your commentary and hope that you will be back to visit us soon!



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.