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Changes in Smoking Intensity Over Time by Birth Cohort and by Latino National Background, 1997–2014



The purpose of the study was to describe changes in smoking intensity among US Latinos and non-Latinos from 1997 to 2014.


National Health Interview Survey data between 1997 and 2014 were used to determine the number of cigarettes smoked per day (CPD) among Latino and non-Latino adults who had smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime and were currently smoking every day or some days (ie, current smokers).


CPD declined steadily throughout the observation period and were consistently lower for Latino than for non-Latino smokers. However, decreases were not equal across birth cohorts, genders, or among Latino national background groups. CPD declined most among Mexican men and least among younger generations, Cuban women, and acculturated Latina women. Additionally, declines in smoking intensity seemed to slow over time among low CPD consumers.


Although smoking intensity has decreased substantially since the late 1990s, CPD data suggest that declines are slowing among younger generations and certain Latina women. Effective tobacco control strategies should be developed to discourage even very light and nondaily smoking.


Few studies have been conducted on how smoking intensity has changed since the late 1990s. Between 2004 and 2011, when the decline in smoking prevalence slowed, it is unknown how smoking intensity (ie, CPD) changed by age. Additionally, no research has assessed differences and changes in smoking intensity over time among Latinos. From this study we learned that smoking intensity declined significantly since the late 1990s, but this decline slowed among younger generations of smokers and certain Latina women. Findings suggest that future patterns of smoking intensity may only marginally decline in the near future.

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