Background: Available estimates of cigarette smoking prevalence from the General Household Survey (GHS), the source of official smoking data in Britain, can be over a year out of date. With a number of policy initiatives being undertaken at national level, it would be useful to be able to track changes in a more timely manner.
Aims and design: We compared prevalence estimates from the Omnibus Survey, a monthly survey conducted by the Office for National Statistics, with those from the General Household Survey in order to examine whether they may provide a complementary and more timely source of cigarette smoking prevalence data.
Findings: The age and socio-economic structure of the samples from the Omnibus and GHS surveys was very similar. When data from monthly Omnibus Surveys for the year 2000 were combined, prevalence estimates were within 1% point of those from the GHS for 2000, and overall sample sizes were also similar. The Omnibus data show a significant linear decline in prevalence between 1999 and 2002 of about 0.4% per year. This coincides with the introduction of a national strategy for reducing smoking prevalence.
Conclusions: The Omnibus Survey can be a useful additional tool for assessing changes in smoking prevalence.