Drinking Influences Students’ Smoking Habits


Published: April 15, 2010

Peanut butter and jelly, spaghetti and meatballs, bread and butter: they are all natural partners. For students at Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC), smoking cigarettes and drinking seems to have the same sort of harmony, for both regular smokers and occasional smokers alike.

A recent study done by Mark and Mimi Nichter, anthropologists at the University of Arizona, has sparked interest not in the statistics regarding college students who smoke, but rather the reasons why they do.They assessed and analyzed the answers from the University of Arizona students who admitted that smoking and drinking are “like peanut butter and jelly, they go together,” while also acting as a habitual reliever for college stress.The study has shown that many students smoke to “facilitate social interaction across gender, allow establishment of time and space at a party, enable ‘party’ smokers to smoke with fewer negative side effects and help to calm one down when drunk or stressed”. Similarly, smoking serves as a utility function to the large population of smokers here at FCLC whether hand-in-hand with drinking or routinely throughout the day. Many students at FCLC identify with the study’s reasoning behind puffing away, in addition to having reasons of their own. A good smoke out the other, the drunk cigarette is the best cigarette,” Durkin said. “Always enhances my drunk, without fail. It’s also great the morning after to recover from a bad hangover.”

“I get more drunk when I smoke,” said Maria Papadopoulos, FCLC ’11. “I want to drink more when I smoke but at the same time it relaxes me; it calms me down.”“Smoking [increases] when you’re feeling great,” said Dan Acampa, FCLC ’13. “You always want one when you’re drinking. Some of my friends only smoke when they’re drunk and that’s fine.”

Unlike Acampa, some regular smokers do not sympathize with “party smokers.”

“I’m not a fan [of party smokers] because I think that that’s making a drunken decision rather than deciding to smoke when you’re sober,” said Andrew Scherer, FCLC ’13. “At least I made a conscious decision.”

For non-smokers, there is a curiosity involved when it comes to cigarettes.

Aldo Santa Inés, a one-time “party smoker” recounted his first cigarette. “I actually had virgin lungs until last summer that I decided to try a cig and coincidentally it was during a party and drinking was involved,” Santa Inés said. “It was not the result of peer pressure. Just a curiosity that needed to be fulfilled,” he said. “There’s no pressure, just the need/want to smoke while you drink.”

“After hearing a vivid description it makes you more inclined to try it. A lot of people I know love to smoke especially when they drink because of the taste and sensation, the pairing generates,” said Santa Inés.

Many students admit that smoking, at any time of the day, provides a means of social interaction.

“Say you want to talk to someone,” Acampa said. “As a smoker you can always say, ‘Do you have a light?’”

“On a smoking break you bond with your fellow smokers,” Papadopoulos said.

Indeed at FCLC, it is tradition for many smokers to meet for 15 minutes in the plaza or outside McMahon Hall in between classes to catch up over a cigarette.

“A cigarette is the length of a perfect conversation—not too long, not too short,” Durkin said. “There’s something about smoking a cigarette that inspires conversation topics.”

“I feel like a lot of students in the city smoke, so there is definitely a ‘community’ of smokers to rely on not judging you,” said S. Wheeler, FCLC ’11. “You have those friends that you run out to the plaza with during your 15-minute break to smoke a cigarette.”

However, the study has shown that there is a window of “initiation” into smoking, whether regularly or while drinking, that occurs at some point within the freshman year. Undoubtedly at a campus where smoking is so prevalent among the population, there will be students that submit to the pressure.

“I’ll admit that my first puffs of a cigarette were in the first months of freshman year,” Durkin said. “I started regularly smoking the summer after freshman year when I took a serving job, though.”

Acampa, a current freshman, started “late last year, drunkenly.” He said, “I got here and smoked. Friends bought me packs of cigarettes because I wasn’t old enough.”

“I started smoking before freshman year,” Papadopoulos said. “But I definitely started smoking a lot more since my freshman year. College doesn’t force you to smoke but [smoking] definitely alleviates certain pressures and stress.”

So what are students stressing about so much that they begin practicing a dangerously unhealthy habit?

“School,” Papadopoulos said. “School stresses me out. I look forward to my little breaks between classes.”

“College is a stressful time and cigarettes help me get through the day,” Durkin said. “When I’m stressed, a cigarette is a great way to let off some steam. It’s also a great excuse to leave my desk, even for a moment, to have a break from stressful studying.”

“I mainly smoke for stress. I know that sounds so cliché, but it’s true,” Wheeler said. “Finals and midterms are prime time for smoking. It’s a good way to take a five-minute break from studying and chill out.”

So will students at FCLC quit after school is over or will they continue the harmful habit?

“I’m an I’ll-quit-in-a-few-years type of smoker,” Durkin said. “Of course I’d love to stop, but I’m young and I’m allowed to be stupid.”

“I’ve always said that I would quit after I graduate,” Wheeler said. “Mostly because, for me, smoking has its expiration date.”