Body image issues make smoking harder to quit for college−aged women

KENNESAW‚ Ga. (July 30‚ 2007) — While the number of college−aged women lighting…

Georgia (Jul 30, 2007) — Body image issues make smoking harder to quit for college−aged women

Jennifer Hafer


Director of University Relations
Frances Weyand Harrison

Contact/Writer: Jennifer Hafer‚ 770−423−6711 or

KENNESAW‚ Ga. (July 30‚ 2007) — While the number of college−aged women lighting up for the first time is down‚ new research suggests fewer are kicking the habit.

In a first of its kind study‚ Kennesaw State University assistant professor Dr. Sean Stickney and Purdue University’s Dr. David Black found that young women who smoke were up to three times more likely to exhibit negative perceptions of their physical appearance and physical abilities. Similarly‚ the research revealed that kicking the habit may be made more complicated by the presence of body dysmorphic disorder‚ a type of body image disorder.

“The importance of this study is the realization that various body image issues‚ and eating disorders‚ can directly affect smoking behavior and self−perceptions‚” Stickney said.

In a nationwide sample of female college students between 18 and 25 years old‚ the researchers found women who smoked cigarettes exhibited symptoms associated with BDD‚ including an intense and unrealistic fear of weight gain‚ preoccupations with comparing themselves to their friends as well as others around them and avoiding social engagements completely for fear of negative evaluations of their physical appearance.

“Fewer women are quitting smoking due to the prevalence of disorders such as BDD‚” Stickney said. “We believe that these types of physical self−perceptions may not only hinder a woman’s intentions to quit smoking‚ but may be associated with increased risk for depression as well as an increased risk for developing eating disorders.”

According to the National Institutes of Health‚ between 22 and 25 percent of 15−to−24−year−olds‚ or one in four‚ smokes.

But‚ according to Stickney‚ traditional cessation programs may not be enough to help women in college quit.

“We need to be aware of the presence of these disorders when designing smoking cessation programs for college−aged women‚” he said.

For further information‚ or to schedule an interview‚ please contact the writer.


A member of the 35−unit University System of Georgia‚ Kennesaw State University is a comprehensive‚ residential institution with a growing student population approaching 20‚000 from 132 countries. The third−largest university in Georgia‚ Kennesaw State offers more than 60 graduate and undergraduate degrees‚ including a new doctorate in education.



A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit