Young adults are at the greatest risk for initiation of smoking or becoming daily smokers. Smoking has a unique history in the United States and is associated with health risks beyond heart disease and lung cancer, many specifically affecting women. Although the majority of people are aware of the risks for heart disease and lung cancer, many other risks are not recognized. By evaluating the known knowledge of smoking-related health risks beyond and including heart disease and lung cancer in the high risk population of female college students, education programs and cessation teaching can be altered, potentially resulting in lower start rates and higher cessation rates. In order to accomplish these changes, known health risks and unknown or unrecognized health risks need to be identified. Data were analyzed using comparative descriptive statistics gathered by a survey tool that was dispersed to college students' email as a Survey Monkey questionnaire. All female students attending Minnesota State University, Mankato during the previous spring 2011, current summer 2011 and upcoming fall 2011 semesters received the email request. Data were included from 473 students aged 18 to 24. Questions addressed personal and family experience with smoking, current smoking status, perceived risk of smoking-related health conditions, participation in high-risk behaviors, and identification of the three most common health consequences of smoking. As indicated by previous research, the majority of current and former smokers began smoking between the ages of 16 and 19. The data corroborated with previous studies indicating low perceived risk for smoking-related health conditions. Correlations between participation in high-risk behaviors and tobacco use were supported by the research. Positive family history with smoking-related health consequence appears to be a factor in tobacco use. Results from this study duplicate previous research indicating the health care system's failure in making advances in educating young women about smoking-related health risks. Additionally, the media's attempts at educating the public of the link between smoking and heart disease in women has failed with over 75% of respondents incorrectly identifying lung cancer as the most common health consequence of smoking. A need for assessment of the smoking status of and education regarding the health risks of tobacco use is indicated by the results.


Hans-Peter de Ruiter

Committee Member

Sue Ellen Bell

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)


School of Nursing


Allied Health and Nursing

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License



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