In 2000, cigarette advertising was banned from the Brazilian media [LEI N degrees 10.167, de 27 de dezembro de dezembro. (2000). http://www.planalto.gov.br/ccivil_03/Leis/L10167.htm]. Nevertheless, not enough surveys have been carried out to measure the impact of the prohibition. The objective of the present survey was to compare the use of tobacco by primary and secondary school students in 1997 and 2004, that is, before and after the ban on tobacco advertising in Brazil. Two surveys were conducted (in 1997 and 2004) using the same methodology, with a target population of primary (from the fifth grade on) and secondary public schools in ten different Brazilian capitals. The sampling was done by conglomerates, stratified, and obtained in two stages. In total, 15,501 students were surveyed in 1997, and 21,712 in 2004. The questionnaire was adapted from an instrument developed by WHO, anonymous, self-administered, and applied collectively in the classroom. In a comparison of the two surveys (1997 and 2004) tobacco lifetime use (used any psychotropic drug at least once in their life) decreased significantly in seven out of ten capitals surveyed. The 11-12 year old age group experienced the largest decrease in tobacco lifetime use. There was a decrease in lifetime use for males in nine capitals, and in eight capitals for females. A decrease was also observed in heavy tobacco use also in eight capitals. In conclusion there was a significant decrease in tobacco consumption among the surveyed students, suggesting that the decrease is related to changes in public policy in Brazil over the surveyed period.