Too broke to smoke?

Freshmen must decide whether to dish dollars on cigarettes or academics.

Starting college can be a stressful and expensive time for freshmen. With all of the dorm supplies to buy and books to purchase, students may find they do not have as much cash to spend as they did back in high school.

(Monica Zuber/TTN)

For smokers, it’s a different set of concerns. The stress of beginning a new school and meeting new people can upset the normal routine. Some smokers may start cutting back on cigarettes, while others find themselves smoking more frequently. Being surrounded by so many new things can easily affect a smoker’s habits.

Stress is usually a trigger for most smokers to pick up a cigarette, and it is no different for college students.

“Increased pressure of being in a new place combined with pressure to fit in can increase a student’s smoking frequency,” said Dina Stonberg, coordinator of the Health Education Awareness Resource Team, formerly known as the Temple Health Empowerment Office.

Freshmen looking to fit in with their peers may be more inclined to join the pack and light up. Stonberg said that many freshmen come to college expecting a good number of people to smoke due to preconceived notions and may smoke cigarettes to fit that mold. HEART teaches a concept on social norms marketing to try to sway students away from smoking.

The dynamics of dorm life can also affect freshman smoking habits. Stonberg said depending on the crowd surrounding the particular person. He or she could start smoking more or less frequently.
Freshman advertising major Sean Bolten said he chose his living situation based on his smoking habits.

“I picked a non-smoker [as my roommate] so I could be motivated to smoke less,” Bolten said.
So far, he says it is working. Between a non-smoking roommate and not having a vehicle, his usual place to enjoy a cigarette, Bolten has cut down his overall consumption of cigarettes.

The anxiety that comes with beginning college does not necessarily affect all students’ smoking patterns. Lowery Adams, a freshman in the Tyler School of Art, said her smoking habits have stayed the same since coming to Temple. The many interactions among incoming freshmen did make her crave a cigarette even more.

“After the irritating sessions of orientation, I’d walk out and smoke,” Adams said.
The more flexible schedules colleges allow give students more opportunities to smoke throughout the day and take cigarette breaks like Adams does.

Both Bolten and Adams agreed that despite cigarettes being cheaper in Philadelphia than in their hometowns, their smoking routines have not changed because of the decrease in price. Adams said that even without the extra dollar tax that her home state of Maryland imposes on cigarettes, she has not smoked more often.

Even if cigarettes are less expensive at Temple, many students still opt to use Diamond Dollars to buy them so they can keep some extra cash in their pockets. This is not the case for Adams.

“If I ever get desperate enough, I might,” Adams said on using Diamond Dollars to buy smokes.

Both 7-Elevens on campus accept Diamond Dollars as currency for the purchase of cigarettes.

With the semester just beginning, many freshmen have not yet felt the pressures that are associated with their academic and social calendars. Many are just learning how to adapt to
living on their own without yet having to worry about such problems as mid-terms and major papers.

“When students come to college, they are now managing their own money. They might choose to do other things with it than smoking,” Stonberg said.

After spending money on textbooks and a few round trips on the subway to Center City for $2.90 roundtrip, the price of cigarettes may prove to be a luxury item that some students cannot afford all of the time.

Lauren Herman can be reached at

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