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Prev Med. 2006 Feb;42(2):120-7. Epub 2005 Nov 3.

Trends in smoking by birth cohorts born between 1900 and 1977 in Japan.

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Statistics and Cancer Control Division, Research Center for Cancer Prevention and Screening, National Cancer Center, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, Japan.



The present study aimed to elucidate the changing patterns of smoking among successive birth cohorts in Japan.


Birth-cohort-specific smoking prevalence was estimated for birth cohorts born from 1900 to 1952, using data pooled from four prospective studies (242,330 men and 274,075 women), and for birth cohorts born from 1925 to 1977, using National Nutrition Survey data.


For men, two peaks were observed in smoking prevalence, in the 1925 and late-1950s birth cohorts, while a trough was observed for the 1938 birth cohort. For women, ever smoking prevalence was lowest among the 1930s birth cohorts. After the female 1940s birth cohorts, no peak was observed until the end of our observations, the 1970s birth cohorts. Although Japanese women have historically tended to start smoking at later ages, recently, smoking habits have widely expanded among females in young birth cohorts.


Smoking trends in Japanese men and women vary by birth cohorts. Smoking cessation should continue to be strongly promoted among men, although the younger generation has widely adopted a nonsmoking lifestyle. For women, efforts for preventing the onset of smoking, while necessary among the younger generation, should even be enhanced among middle-aged women.

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