Epidemiology of Tobacco and Substance Abuse Among University Students in Mashhad, Northeast of Iran, in 2008

Document Type : Original Article


Research Center for HIV/AIDS, HTLV and Viral Hepatitis, Iranian Academic Center for Education, Culture and Research (ACECR), Mashhad Branch, Mashhad, IR Iran



Background: Risky behaviors such as tobacco and substance abuse, which often begin in adolescence, have been considered as the most important cause of morbidity and mortality in the world. Objectives: This study was designed to assess the frequency of tobacco smoking, substance abuse and alcohol consumption among students of a university in Mashhad, Iran. Patients and Methods: In this cross-sectional study, 944 university students in Mashhad were randomly selected from 11 faculties with 12183 students in 2008 and filled out a self-administer questionnaire. Kaplan-Meier survival analysis and log rank statistics were used to evaluate the mean initiation age of the behaviors. Logistic regression analysis was performed for the prediction of the behaviors using SPSS software. Results: The overall frequency of smoking, alcohol drinking and substance abuse among students were 18.9%, 9.6% and 4.7%, respectively. Among students with a history of smoking, 69% had started smoking before 20 years of age. Moreover, 69.9% of individuals with a history of alcohol consumption and 56.5% of those with a history of substance abuse had reported their first use before 20 years of age. Older and human sciences students had a higher possibility to smoke tobacco (OR = 2.31 and OR = 1.27, respectively) and drink alcohol (OR = 2.20 and OR = 1.40, respectively). Conclusions: Present study demonstrated that the frequency of tobacco and substance abuse is considerable among Iranian university students who thought to be more knowledgeable and concerned about their health. Thus, efficient educational programs are needed to reduce the high-risk behaviors before students enter to university.