Background: After 100 years of mass consumption of cigarettes, the smoking epidemic is on the verge of a historic decline in Norway. The article shows the number of smokers and tobacco consumption among men and women from 1927 to 2007.
Material and methods: The total consumption of tobacco was estimated by adding up registered and unregistered sales. Data were collected from the Directorate of Customs and Excise and the tobacco industry. Sex-specific consumption was calculated from information on proportion of smokers and daily consumption (self-reported), excerpted from time series of representative cross-sectional surveys.
Results: About 800,000 men - more men than women - smoked in the early 1960s, but the annual consumption of cigarettes per adult male reached its peak (2.8 kg) in the mid-1970s. The number of smokers among men has been halved since then and consumption reduced to 1.5 kg per adult male in 2007. Consumption peaked among women in about 1990, but stopped at 1.8 kg. The number of female smokers has only been reduced by about 150 000 individuals since it culminated at around 600,000 in the early 1970s. Men smoked more than 70 % of the cigarettes consumed from 1927 to 2007.
Interpretation: The tobacco epidemic has affected men more than women. After 1995 a sex convergence has been observed.