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J Natl Cancer Inst. 1991 Jul 17;83(14):1009-13.

Smoking initiation in the United States: a role for worksite and college smoking bans.

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Population Studies in Cancer Prevention, University of California, San Diego School of Medicine Cancer Center, La Jolla 92093-0901.


Data from four National Health Interview Surveys were combined, and a birth-cohort analysis was undertaken to determine the age when regular smoking is initiated. By the age of 25 years, most smokers have already become regular smokers. Among men, the proportion of each birth cohort who become regular smokers has declined at a rate of about 1.0% for each year of birth since 1945. There has been no identifiable decline in successive birth cohorts of women. For those born in the most recent birth cohorts, there was no sex difference in the proportion who became regular smokers. The proportion of smokers beginning to smoke during the secondary-school years (less than or equal to 18 years of age) has increased steadily, especially among people with a high-school education or less. However, in the latest birth cohort (1960-1962), over 18% of ever smokers with at least a high-school education did not start to smoke regularly until their young-adult years (19-24 years of age). If the effect of tobacco-education programs in the schools is to postpone the uptake of regular smoking, it is important to have tobacco policies in place in other areas of society that will maintain non-smoking behavior through the young-adult years. Accordingly, the banning of smoking in colleges, universities, and worksites, as well as in secondary schools, may significantly decrease the proportion of young people who eventually become regular smokers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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