Objectives: This study compared trends in adult cigarette smoking prevalence in California and the remainder of the United States between 1978 and 1994.
Methods: We used data from National Health Interview Surveys and Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System surveys to compare trends in smoking prevalence among persons 18 years and older.
Results: In both California and the remainder of the United States, the estimated annual rate of decline in adult smoking prevalence accelerated significantly from 1985 to 1990: to -1.22 percentage points per year (95% confidence interval [CI] = -1.51, -0.93) in California and to -0.93 percentage points per year (95% CI = -1.13, -0.73) in the remainder of the nation. The rate of decline slowed significantly from 1990 to 1994: to -0.39 percentage points per year (95% CI = -0.76, -0.03) in California and to -0.05 percentage points per year (95% CI = -0.34, 0.24) in the remainder of the United States.
Conclusions: The presence of an aggressive tobacco control intervention has supported a significant decline in adult smoking prevalence in California from 1985 to 1990 and a slower but still significant decline from 1990 to 1994, a period in which there was no significant decline in the remainder of the nation. To restore nationwide progress in reducing smoking prevalence, other states should consider similar interventions.