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Changes in cigarette smoking among adults in 35 populations in the mid-1980s
  1. Annette J Dobsona,
  2. Kari Kuulasmaab,
  3. Vladislav Moltchanovb,
  4. Alun Evansc,
  5. Stephen P Fortmannd,
  6. Konrad Jamrozike,
  7. Susana Sansf,
  8. Jaakko Tuomilehto for the WHO MONICA Project*,b
  1. aUniversity of Newcastle, Australia, bNational Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland, cQueen’s University of Belfast, UK, dStanford University, California, USA, eUniversity of Western Australia, Perth, Australia, fInstitut d’Estudis de la Salut, Barcelona, Spain
  1. Prof Annette Dobson, Department of Statistics, University of Newcastle, New South Wales 2308, Australia.stajd{at}


OBJECTIVE To examine changes in the prevalence of cigarette smoking in 35 study populations of the World Health Organisation’s MONICA Project.

DESIGN Data from two independent, community-based surveys conducted, on average, five years apart.

SETTING Geographically defined populations in 21 countries mainly in eastern and western Europe.

SUBJECTS Randomly selected men and women aged 25–64 years. Numbers of participants in each study population ranged from 586 to 2817 in each survey.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES Changes in proportions of current smokers, ex-smokers, and never-smokers by age and sex using data collected by standardised methods.

RESULTS Among men, smoking prevalence decreased in most populations, by three to four percentage points over five years. In Beijing, however, it increased in all age groups—overall by 11 percentage points. Among women there were increases in smoking in about half the populations. The increases were mainly in the age group 35–54 years and often in those populations where smoking prevalence among women has been relatively low.

CONCLUSIONS Smoking initiation by middle-aged women in parts of southern and eastern Europe and among men of all ages in Beijing is a matter of concern. The various public health measures that have helped to reduce smoking among men in developed countries should be vigorously extended to these other groups now at growing risk of smoking-related disease.

  • cigarette smoking
  • prevalence
  • World Health Organisation MONICA Project

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  • * See appendix 1 for a list of collaborating centres and key personnel