Many college students do not consider themselves “smokers,” even though they have a cigarette or two when out drinking or partying with friends. The tobacco industry targets these occasional users with special marketing. As Phillip Morris put it, “significant choice moments in cigarette smoking tend to coincide with critical transition stages in life.”

Take the Smoking Habits Quiz, which will assess your nicotine dependence and provide personalized feedback about taming nicotine cravings.

The American Heart Association’s No-Smoking Confidence Assessment and Tips offers suggestions on how to fight the urge in situations where you’re not so confident.

Health Effects of Tobacco

Tobacco use is still the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. It harms nearly every organ in the body. Smoking causes 11 types of cancer, including acute myeloid leukemia, bladder, cervical, esophageal, kidney, larynx (voice box), lung, mouth, throat, stomach, and uterine cancer. It also causes cardiovascular disease, and lung diseases such as emphysema and bronchitis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tobacco causes more deaths each year than deaths from HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol, car crashes, suicide, and murders combined.

Most of us associate cancer or heart disease with older adults who have smoked heavily for years. The truth is, even an occasional cigarette while drinking or going out with friends still causes damage to your lungs, blood vessels, and cells throughout your body. Think that filters protect you from all those chemicals? They actually speed up nicotine absorption, making it even more addictive.

Secondhand smoke also causes lung cancer and heart disease. Smoking by an open window or rolling the car window down does not protect non-smoking friends, family members, or pets. Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke can get bronchitis, pneumonia, and ear infections. It’s especially dangerous for kids with asthma.

Cigarette Ingredients

What do nail polish remover, rat poison, hair dye, and lighter fluid all have in common? They all contain chemicals that can also be found in cigarettes. Cigarettes contain about 600 ingredients that create 4,000 chemicals when burned. At least 50 of these are known ‘carcinogens’ chemicals that cause cancer.

Cigarettes contain nicotine, a very addictive chemical that’s also used in insecticides. It changes the chemical balance in your brain, and it may only take a few cigarettes before you’re hooked.

The good news is that smokers have a lot of options when it comes to quitting, when they are ready. For many people, it takes about 5 to 7 attempts to actually quit, so don’t give up.

Smokeless Tobacco (Chew) vs. Cigarettes

Smokeless tobacco is not safer than cigarettes. Chew contains 28 known carcinogens, and one “dip” delivers the same amount of nicotine as three or four cigarettes and stays in the bloodstream longer. It causes cancers of the oral cavity like the gums and tongue, gum disease, and is linked to heart disease, diabetes, and reproductive problems.

College Students: A Target of the Tobacco Industry

Many college students do not consider themselves “smokers,” even though they have a cigarette or two when out drinking or partying with friends. The tobacco industry targets these occasional users with special marketing. As Phillip Morris put it, “significant choice moments in cigarette smoking tend to coincide with critical transition stages in life.”


Hookah is a Middle Eastern tradition, and has been around for centuries. The tobacco is mixed with honey, molasses, or fruit pulp and is filtered through a water pipe. The smoke, although cool, still contains nicotine and carcinogens. Smoking hookah for an hour delivers the same amount of tar and nicotine as one pack of cigarettes. The secondhand smoke from hookah is just as dangerous as secondhand cigarette smoke.

If cancer and heart and lung diseases don’t make you nervous, consider this: some establishments do not sterilize mouthpieces after each use, which can spread mononucleosis (mono), herpes, hepatitis, and tuberculosis (an infectious lung disease).

Marijuana Smoke vs. Cigarette Smoke

Marijuana smoke is still damaging to lung tissue, and studies have shown that it causes precancerous changes to those cells. It contains three to five times the tar and carbon monoxide (which is poisonous to the body) as a cigarette. Does it contain all of the same carcinogens? No.

Just like cigarette smokers, marijuana users experience more frequent chest colds and bronchitis, not to mention a regular cough and more phlegm. Now, isn’t that sexy?

If you smoke cigarettes and marijuana, you are doing double duty on your lungs.


E-cigarettes are a battery-operated device that look like a real cigarette and contain cartridges filled with nicotine and other chemicals. They are not a safe alternative to smoking. E-cigarettes still contain some carcinogens and are not considered a form of NRT (nicotine replacement therapy) by the FDA. They still deliver nicotine, just in a vapor form. Not enough research exists on exposure to secondhand vapor to say that it may not still pose some risk.

Your body will thank you. After smoking your last cigarette:

  • 20 minutes: Blood pressure and pulse rate decrease
  • 8 hours: Carbon monoxide levels in blood return to normal
  • 1 day: The likelihood of a heart attack decreases
  • 2 days: Nerve endings regenerate; sense of smell and taste are enhanced
  • 2 weeks: Circulation improves and lung function increases
  • 1-9 months: Coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, and shortness of breath decrease
  • 1 year: The likelihood of heart attack is cut in half
  • 5 years: Stroke risk is reduced to the same levels as a non-smoker
  • 10 years: Risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a current smoker
  • 15 years: Risk of coronary heart disease and death become roughly equivalent to those who have never smoked

The American Lung Association offers are other good reasons to quit.

A combination of in-person or telephone counseling with medication has the highest success rates. Click here to compare treatment options.

For medication, you have several over-the-counter and prescription options available. The Colorado QuitLine can provide FREE gum, patches, and lozenges to those who are eligible. The pharmacy at the CSU Health and Medical Center also offers low-cost medications.

Prescription medications like Chantix and Zyban come in pill form and work directly on the brain to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Both of these do not contain nicotine, which is better for the body. Talk to your doctor to see if this type of medication is right for you.

Other prescriptions, like Nicotrol (an inhaler) and Nicotrol NS (nasal spray) contain nicotine and are absorbed into the body quickly. These can help control cravings. Some patches (like Habitrol or Prostep) require a prescription, while others (like Nicoderm CQ) do not. Nicotine is delivered steadily throughout the day, and the patch can be easily hidden under clothing.

Nicotine gum is available without a prescription. It works best if you chew it briefly, then hold it between the inside of your cheek and gum line. Don’t continue to chew – the nicotine can upset your stomach. You also cannot eat, drink, or chew anything else 15 minutes before using the gum, or while it’s in your mouth.

For more information about medication/cessation options, check out Tobacco Free U.

CSU’s Smoking Policy does not allow smoking in:

  • The interiors of all University buildings and all University-owned or leased vehicles.
  • Outdoor areas within twenty-five (25) feet of any entrance, passageway, operable window, or ventilation system of any university building.
  • Outdoor courtyards and common areas adjacent to or contained within the perimeter of any university residence hall or apartment.
  • The outdoor corridor commonly referred to as the Centre Avenue Mall or academic spine of the main campus, running North to South from the Engineering Building to the Lake Street Parking Garage.

Policy violations should be reported online.

The City of Fort Collins’ Smoking Ordinance is in compliance with the State of Colorado’s Clean Indoor Air Act(CCIAA) of 2006, which prohibits smoking in most public places, including bars, restaurants, and places of employment. It also prohibits smoking within 15 feet of smoke-free areas (Fort Collins requires 20 feet).

The City of Fort Collins recently expanded smoke-free areas, to include:

  • Old Town Square (January 1, 2016)
  • All City parks, trails, and natural areas (Sept. 1, 2015)
  • Most City-approved events and festivals (2016)
  • All City owned and operated facilities and their grounds (Sept. 1, 2015)

Please visit to view the most current City policy.

Campus Quit Support

CSU Health Network Tobacco Cessation Counseling: 970-491-6053

The CSU Health Network can help you with the quitting process, when you are ready. Our program is modeled after the Nicotine Dependency Program at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. We provide a professional health coach specializing in tobacco to help you:

  • Learn valuable tools about how to successfully quit or reduce use.
  • Receive information about medication, as well as over the counter products and other quitting aids, that best fit you and your quitting process.
  • Create a tailored quit and relapse plan, matching your current level of readiness.

If medication is right for you, you can get both over-the-counter and prescription medications at the Pharmacy located in the Hartshorn building. The CSU Health Network is happy to fill prescriptions written by any provider, including those from outside the Health Network

Campus and Community Coalitions

CSU’s Alcohol and Other Drugs Committee has identified tobacco use as a campus health priority. The Committee is a diverse group of faculty, staff, and students working toward a healthy and safe campus community. If you are interested in joining, or would like more information, please call (970) 491-1702.

Team Wellness and Prevention works with the Fort Collins community to address issues related to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs among youth and families.

Colorado QuitLine: 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669); TTY 1-888-229-2182
Counselors are available: Monday-Friday, 7a.m.-9p.m; Saturday and Sunday, 8a.m.-4:30p.m.; 24-Hour Voice Mail.

The QuitLine provides private counseling and support, advice on crafting your quit plan, problem-solving advice, and skills to help you break old habits, and help deciding which cessation products or medications may be beneficial for you. They can provide FREE nicotine replacement gum, patches, and lozenges.

American Lung Association’s Freedom From Smoking is a free online quit service. offers a step-by-step quit guide, live help from National Cancer Institute cessation counselors through text messaging or by phone, and other tools to help you get started.

The American Legacy Foundation, a national public health foundation funded by Master Settlement Agreement payments, is a resource for tobacco and cessation information, especially for youth, women, and minority populations. Their site provides general tobacco facts, personal stories, quitting assistance, and information on ALF programs and initiatives.

The American Cancer Society is a comprehensive source of information regarding the harmful effects of tobacco, quitting tips, smoking legislation, risks for children and teens, and the Great American Smokeout program. The site also serves as a support and information network for cancer patients, survivors, and their families and friends.

The American Heart Association provides information on nicotine addiction, NRT (nicotine replacement therapy), smokeless tobacco, smoking cessation, tobacco advertising, environmental tobacco smoke, federal tobacco regulations, and the tobacco industry’s targeting of youth, minorities, and women.