Background: Adult cigar use in California increased substantially between 1990 and 1996.
Methods: Cigar smoking prevalence is from the 1990, 1996, and 1999 California Tobacco Surveys (CTS), large cross-sectional random-digit-dialed surveys designed to identify trends in tobacco use in the California population. Questions added to the 1999 CTS allowed a more detailed assessment of cigar smoking patterns.
Results: Adult cigar use prevalence increased from 2.5% (95% confidence interval [CI], 2.2-2.8) in 1990 to 4.9% (95% CI=4.5-5.3) in 1996, and declined to 4.4% (95% CI=4.1-4.7) in 1999. Nearly the entire decrease was accounted for by less use in adults who had never been cigarette smokers. Among current cigar smokers in 1999, 43.3% (95% CI=37.8-48.8) had not smoked a cigar in the last month, just 16.2% (95% CI=7.9-24.5) of never cigarette smokers smoked three or more cigars in the past month, but 10.4% (95% CI=5.0-15.8) of former cigarette smokers-the group with the highest level of cigar consumption-reported daily use.
Conclusions: Cigar use may have peaked in California around 1996; in 1999, the intensity of use was generally at modest levels. California's bans on smoking in bars and restaurants may limit cigar smoking while drinking, so that the observed patterns may or may not reflect those in the rest of the United States.