Objectives: This study analyzed the pattern of smoking initiation by sex and educational level in Catalonia, Spain.
Methods: Data from the 1994 Catalan Health Interview Survey were used (n = 12,245). The age and smoking status of each subject were reconstructed for each calendar period. Age-specific smoking initiation rates were calculated.
Results: Smoking initiation among females was rare until the 1960s, but from the period 1968-1972 onward a converging pattern was observed between the genders. Women with higher levels of education started smoking before other women, but the gradient of educational level has changed in recent years, with higher initiation rates among less-educated women.
Conclusions: These results are consistent with diffusion-of-innovations theory and could be related to social and economic changes from the 1960s onward in Spain.