Continued from page 1

The tobacco industry fought back, saying its products were not addictive or harmful, Mr. Leahy wrote. But as the mountain of broken lives, health care costs and incriminating research grew, the public clamored to curtail people’s right to smoke in many places.

“Today, smoking is about as cool as clubbing seals and clearing rain forests,” Mr. Leahy wrote.

Pornography is on the same path, he said. It may still be seen as a cheap, harmless form of entertainment, but its mountains of broken lives, health problems and incriminating research are accumulating too, and a “social backlash” is building.

Mr. Leahy’s new book stems from an online survey taken by more than 26,000 college students from 2006 to 2008. The 33-question survey included 25 questions from the Sexual Addiction Screening Test developed by Patrick Carnes, a nationally known expert on sex addiction.

The results? Only 1 percent of students appeared to have a serious sexual addiction, said Mr. Leahy.

But more than half of students “worried about people finding out” about their sexual activities, and half were actively hiding their sexual behaviors.

In addition, significant portions of students said they:

• Had trouble “stopping” a sexual behavior, even though they knew it was inappropriate.

• Had tried in vain to “quit” a certain sexual activity.

• Felt “degraded by your sexual behavior.”

In other words, many students already feel troubled about their sexual behaviors, said Mr. Leahy, who saw his own 30-year porn problem escalate while attending college.

Young adults are crying out for real information about sex, he said. But there’s too often a deafening silence — except for events like the one at University of Maryland that just plays into the porn industry’s desire to get their products in front of a new generation of customers.

Cheryl Wetzstein can be reached at