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Addiction. 2003 Nov;98(11):1569-74.

Monitoring cigarette smoking prevalence in Britain in a timely fashion.

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Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Unit, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, UK.



Available estimates of cigarette smoking prevalence from the General Household Survey (GHS), the source of official smoking data in Britain, can be over a year out of date. With a number of policy initiatives being undertaken at national level, it would be useful to be able to track changes in a more timely manner.


We compared prevalence estimates from the Omnibus Survey, a monthly survey conducted by the Office for National Statistics, with those from the General Household Survey in order to examine whether they may provide a complementary and more timely source of cigarette smoking prevalence data.


The age and socio-economic structure of the samples from the Omnibus and GHS surveys was very similar. When data from monthly Omnibus Surveys for the year 2000 were combined, prevalence estimates were within 1% point of those from the GHS for 2000, and overall sample sizes were also similar. The Omnibus data show a significant linear decline in prevalence between 1999 and 2002 of about 0.4% per year. This coincides with the introduction of a national strategy for reducing smoking prevalence.


The Omnibus Survey can be a useful additional tool for assessing changes in smoking prevalence.

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