Aims: To update smoking prevalence trends in Italy among adult and young populations; to determine the recent spread, particularly among young smokers, of roll-your-own (RYO) cigarettes (which cost approximately half the price of manufactured cigarettes); and to evaluate the effects of 2013 legislation increasing the minimum tobacco purchasing age from 16 to 18 years in Italy.
Methods: Two surveys on smoking were conducted in 2013 and 2014 in Italy, on a total sample of 6052 individuals, representative each year of the national population aged ≥15 years, where we collected data on type of tobacco most frequently smoked and on the perception of the enforcement of the tobacco sales-to-minors legislation.
Results: A total of 21.1% of the population surveyed were smokers (25.5% of men and 17.0% of women). Prevalence of current smoking among young participants (15-24 years) was 19.9% (21.7% of male participants and 18.0% of female participants). Overall, 6.9% of smokers, and 13.3% of young smokers, reported RYO cigarettes as the most frequently smoked tobacco product. More than 80% of Italian adults had never seen a tobacco retailer refuse to sell cigarettes to minors (i.e., aged <18 years) or request their identification or age.
Conclusions: Although adult and young smoking prevalence rates substantially decreased over the last few decades, neither of them have significantly changed since 2007. Use of RYO cigarettes is increasing, particularly among the young. Our study highlights the need to equalize the costs of different types of tobacco products and to improve the enforcement of the current tobacco sales-to-minors legislation.