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Objective: University undergraduate students are majorly young adults and are vulnerable to the harmful habit of smoking. However, scanty information exists about university undergraduate students’ smoking habit and knowledge. This study aimed to assess the prevalence of cigarette smoking including its associated knowledge and legislation amongst undergraduate students in a Nigerian university.
Methods: The study was cross-sectional in design and was conducted amongst students of University of Medical Sciences Ondo, Nigeria. Data collection on age, gender, prevalence and knowledge of smoking was via structured self-administered questionnaire. Descriptive and inferential statistical analysis was done at 95% confidence interval and p was set at 0.05 using IBM SPSS version 21.0 software.
Results: The respondents were 331 in number with a mean of age of 22.8 ± 3.8 years. Males and females were 178(53.9%) and 152(46.1%) respectively. The prevalence of cigarette smoking was 7.6% while 95.2% started smoking at ≤ 18 years. Also, 68.0% of those who smoke were willing to quit if assistance is offered. Initiation into smoking was by friends (72.0%) and relief of anxiety (44.0%) was the main reason for smoking. The respondents had good knowledge on health associated risks to smoking but had suboptimal knowledge on smoking and its legislation. Non-smokers had better knowledge of smoking, its associated health risks and legislation than smokers. This relationship was significant in knowledge of addictive properties of nicotine (p=0.004) and legislation for smoking in public places (p=0.006).
Conclusion: University undergraduate students had good knowledge of smoking-associated health risks but inadequate knowledge of smoking and associated legislation. Non-smokers had better knowledge in smoking-related information than smokers. Recommended interventional activities include early access to smoking education and cessation therapy.