Objective: On 10 January 2005 Italy became the first large European country adopting a comprehensive smoke-free legislation. We provide information on smoking prevalence in Italy and evaluate the effects of the 2005 regulations.
Methods: We considered data from three companion surveys on smoking, conducted in 2004, 2005 and 2006 in Italy. Each survey included more than 3000 subjects aged 15 years or over, representative of the general Italian adult population.
Results: Current smokers declined from 26.2% (30.0% of men, 22.5% of women) in 2004, to 25.6% (29.3% of men, 22.2% of women) in 2005 and to 24.3% (28.6% of men, 20.3% of women) in 2006. Whereas no significant difference was found comparing smoking prevalence in 2003-2004 vs. 2001-2002, the drop in smoking prevalence in 2005-2006 vs. 2003-2004 was significant (p<0.05) in the total population, in men and in subjects aged 15-44 years. Smokers consumed a mean of 15.4 cigarettes per day in 2004, 14.6 in 2005 and 13.9 cigarettes per day in 2006. Italians reported to go more frequently to restaurants and cafes.
Conclusion: The drop in smoking prevalence and consumption is due, at least in part and particularly for younger generations, to the comprehensive smoke-free legislation adopted in Italy.