Aims and background: To update trends in smoking prevalence in Italy to 2004, and describe the attitudes towards forthcoming regulation of smoking.
Methods: Population-based face-to-face survey conducted in March-April 2004 on a sample of 3050 individuals (1509 men and 1541 women) aged 15 or over, representative of the general adult Italian population in terms of age, sex, geographic area, habitat, education and working status.
Results: Overall, 26.2% of the Italians aged 15 or over described themselves as current cigarette smokers (30.0% of men, 22.5% of women); 19.1% of men and 11.2% of women smoked 15 or more cigarettes per day. Ex-smokers were 17.9% (24.8% of men, 11.2% of women). The difference in smoking prevalence between men and women was greater in the elderly. More educated men, and those residing in northern Italy were less frequently current smokers. Conversely, women with a low level of education (19%) were less frequently current smokers than those with higher education (24%). More than 85% of Italian adult population were in favour of restrictions of smoking in public places, such as cafes and restaurants, and to ban smoking in workplaces.
Conclusions: Self-reported smoking prevalence is decreasing in men but not in females. There is widespread support for smoking restriction in public areas.