Tob Control 14:141-142 doi:10.1136/tc.2004.009977
  • Brief report

“Pack year” smoking histories: what about patients who use loose tobacco?

  1. D M Wood1,
  2. M G Mould2,
  3. S B Y Ong2,
  4. E H Baker3
  1. 1Pharmacology and Clinical Pharmacology, St George’s Hospital Medical School, London, UK
  2. 2St George’s Hospital Medical School
  3. 3Physiological Medicine, St George’s Hospital Medical School
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Emma Baker
 Physiological Medicine, St George’s Hospital Medical School, Cranmer Terrace, London SW17 0RE, UK;
  • Received 13 September 2004
  • Accepted 23 November 2004


Life time smoking of ready made cigarettes can be readily quantified as “pack years” smoked, but methods for measuring loose tobacco use are less well established. In this study the frequency of loose tobacco use by 247 hospital in-patients was determined; 64% were current or ex-smokers, 41.3% of whom (25.9% of participants) had smoked loose tobacco. A formula was developed for converting loose tobacco use to pack years smoked, based on the weight of tobacco in ready made cigarettes; 12.5 g or half an ounce of loose tobacco was approximately equivalent to one packet of 20 cigarettes. Using a questionnaire it was found that hospital physicians of all grades were able to convert smoking histories of ready made cigarettes, but not loose tobacco, into number of “pack years” smoked.


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