Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/342

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WITHIN recent years several investigations have been made concerning the effect of smoking on college students, hut in the opinion of the present writer the bases upon which conclusions were founded were often of such a nature that the results were more or less indefinite and unreliable. It has been very difficult to segregate the effects of smoking from other factors, particularly those of physical fitness and of social environment. In most, if not all, of these investigations, all classes of students have been included, ranging from the typical scholarship men to those who are in attendance, largely because of participation in athletic sports. Students of different ambitions, of different social classes, of different methods of living have been considered alike in one great group in such a way that the results were often susceptible of various interpretations.

In order satisfactorily to arrive at a definite conclusion concerning the effect of smoking an investigation should include men alike in physical and mental aptitude, except as modified by the use of tobacco. In general the men should be equal in physical fitness; it is manifestly undesirable to compare recluse scholarship men with those who are in attendance largely because of athletics. If such a heterogeneous group of men were examined with respect to scholastic standing the athlete would unjustly suffer, while if the same group were examined with respect to athletic attainment the injustice would fall upon the scholarship man, as it is quite generally recognized that the percentage of smokers is higher among athletes than among scholarship men. So far as possible the men should be alike in social tendency, as activity in social functions tends toward smoking and low scholarship. The socially inclined student, therefore, is likely to be a smoker and to belong to the low-scholarship group, but whether his low scholarship is due to his smoking or to his social tendency is difficult, if not impossible, to decide. In the main, therefore, the students under investigation should be either scholarship men or athletic men; they should be participating in the same kind and amount of athletic sport; they should be carrying the same amount of scholastic work; they should be taking part in the same kind of social activities.

While it is not claimed that all of these disturbing factors have