Study objective: To assess how the prevalence of smokers in Italy from 1950 to 2000 has changed, in parallel with law development and the growing attention towards smoking prevention.
Design, setting, and participants: Historical data on smoking trends have been obtained using data collected in 2000 by the National Institute of Statistics. A correction coefficient is proposed to overcome the bias of differential mortality reported in other papers. The sample is made up of 102 261 people aged 15–69 years.
Main results: A general downward trend is seen; there is a more pronounced decrease starting from 1975 to 1980. In both sexes the peak prevalence tends to decrease according to the birth cohort because of the earlier age in which they gave up. A partial exception to the decline of tobacco use in recent years may be made for the 15–19 year-old age group, which has remained stable since 1990.
Conclusions: Although a comprehensive community programme against tobacco was not developed, the different prevention actions implemented in Italy have contributed to a change in attitude and behaviour. The effect of tobacco control strategies implemented in Italy until now is more evident in relation to the breaking of the smoking habit, which happens at an increasingly younger age, although it is not clear how much it is able to prevent people from starting smoking.
- smoking prevalence
- tobacco control strategies
- Italian population
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Conflicts of interest: none declared.