Trends of smoking habits in northern Italy (1986-1990) - The WHO MONICA Project in Area Brianza, Italy

Gian Carlo Cesana, Giovanni de Vito, Marco Ferrario, Roberto Sega, Paolo Mocarelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The trends of age-gender specific prevalence of self-reported smoking habits are presented, observed in two population surveys, performed in 1986-87 and 1989-90 in Area Brianza, a northern Italian industrialized district where a WHO MONICA Centre is located. Methods were internationally standardized to obtain comparable data on two inde pendent random samples, each composed of 1,600 subjects, age-sex stratified and extracted from the 25-64 year old residents. A closed question interview was administered to identify smoking condition (smoker, past-smoker, occasional smoker, never smoker), number of cigarettes consumed per day and attained educational level, categorized in compulsory school and post-compulsory school. Serum thiocyanate was measured as a validation index, using a cutpoint of >100 μmol l-1 to detect false negatives. Trends in smoking prevalence are analyzed taking into account influences of education in the presence of an anti-smoking policy that was started in Italy toward the end of the eighties. Self-reported data, confirmed by serum thiocyanate, show a consistent decline of smokers among males (from 48 to 41%), more evident in younger age groups. In females, smoking prevalence is stable (23-24%), although thiocyanate levels in the whole samples indicate a slight but significant tendency to decrease. Education demonstrates positive influences against smoking, particularly in younger male classes. In females a crossover effect is observable: in the second survey youngest group, education results protective against smoking; the contrary is true in the older groups. Our data, detailing what was initially recognized in previous Italian surveys, may be useful to specify the directions of future preventive actions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-258
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1995


  • Education
  • Smoking
  • Trend

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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