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Problem/Condition: Surveillance of tobacco use is an essential component of any tobacco-control program. The information gathered can be used to guide research initiatives, intervention programs, and policy decisions.

Reporting Periods: This report covers the period 1900–1994 for per capita cigarette consumption; 1965–1991 for trends in cigarette smoking prevalence and cessation; 1974–1991 for trends in the number of cigarettes smoked daily by current smokers; 1987–1991 for recent patterns of tobacco use; 1970, 1987, and 1991 for trends in cigar/pipe smoking and snuff/chewing tobacco use; 1984–1992 for trends in state-specific prevalences of regular cigarette smoking; 1987–1992 for state-specific estimates of smokeless-tobacco use; and 1976–1993 for trends in cigarette smoking among U.S. high school seniors.

Description of Systems: Estimates of cigarette consumption are reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which uses data from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Tobacco Institute, and other sources. The National Health Interview Survey uses household interviews to provide nationally representative estimates (for the civilian, noninstitutionalized population) of cigarette smoking and other behaviors related to tobacco use. The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System uses telephone surveys of civilian, noninstitutionalized adults (³18 years of age) to provide state-specific estimates of current cigarette smoking and use of smokeless tobacco. The University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research uses school-based, self-administered questionnaires to gather data on cigarette smoking from a representative sample of U.S. high school seniors.

Results: During the period 1900–1963, per capita cigarette consumption increased; after 1964, consumption declined. During the years 1965–1991, current cigarette smoking prevalence among persons ages ³18 years declined overall and in every sociodemographic category examined. Decrease in current smoking prevalence was slow in some groups (e.g., among persons with fewer years of formal education). Both the prevalence of never smoking and the prevalence of cessation increased from 1965 through 1991. The prevalence of current cigarette smoking, any tobacco smoking, and any tobacco use was highest among American Indians/Alaska Natives and non-Hispanic blacks and lowest among Asians/Pacific Islanders. The prevalence of cigar smoking and pipe smoking has declined substantially since 1970. The prevalence of smokeless-tobacco use among white males ages 18–34 years was higher in 1987 and 1991 than in 1970; among persons ³45 years of age, the use of smokeless tobacco was more common among blacks than whites in 1970 and 1987. Cigarette smoking prevalence has decreased in most states. The prevalence of smokeless tobacco use was especially high among men in West Virginia, Montana, and several southern states. From 1984–1993, prevalence of cigarette smoking remained constant among U.S. high school seniors. However, prevalence increased slightly for male seniors and white seniors, decreased slightly for female high school seniors, and decreased sharply for black high school seniors.

Interpretation: With the exceptions of increases in cigarette smoking among white and male high school seniors and in the use of smokeless tobacco among white males ages 18–34 years, reductions in tobacco use occurred in every subgroup examined. This decrease must continue if the national health objectives for the year 2000 are to be reached.

Actions Taken: Surveillance of tobacco use is ongoing. Effective interventions that discourage initiation and encourage cessation are being disseminated throughout the United States.


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Giovino, G.A., Schooley, M.W., Zhu, B.P., Chrismon, J.H., Tomar, S.L., Peddicord, J.P., Merritt, R.K., Husten, C.G., and Eriksen, M.P. (1994). Surveillance for selected tobacco-use behaviors—United States, 1900-1994. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. CDC surveillance summaries / Centers for Disease Control, 43(3): 1-43.

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