The Use of Tobacco, E-Cigarettes, and Methods to Quit Smoking in Germany

Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2018 Apr 6;115(14):235-242. doi: 10.3238/arztebl.2018.0235.


Background: Current data on tobacco use are a necessary prerequisite for the study of the implementation of tobacco control measures in the general population. The German Study on Tobacco Use (Deutsche Befragung zum Rauchverhalten, DEBRA) provides previously lacking data on key indicators of smoking behavior and on the consumption of new products such as e-cigarettes. The continual acquisition and accumulation of data permits the analysis of trends and precise statistical evaluation.

Methods: Data were obtained by repeated face-to-face interviews, at 2-month intervals, of representative samples of approximately 2000 persons across Germany aged 14 years and above. For this article, data from 12 273 persons that were acquired in 6 waves of the survey (June/July 2016 to April/May 2017) were aggregated and weighted.

Results: The one-year prevalence of current tobacco consumption was 28.3% (95% confidence interval: [27.5; 29.1]) in the overall survey population and 11.9% [8.9; 14.9] among persons under age 18. Higher tobacco consumption was correlated with lower educational attainment and lower income. 28.1% of the smokers had tried to quit smoking in the past year; the most commonly used method of quitting was e-cigarettes (9.1%). Brief physician advice or pharmacotherapy for smoking cessation were tried by 6.1% and 7.0%, respectively. 1.9% of the overall survey population but only 0.3% of persons who had never smoked were current consumers of e-cigarettes.

Conclusion: Tobacco consumption is very high in Germany compared to other countries in Western and Northern Europe, and its distribution across the population is markedly uneven, with a heavy influence of socioeconomic status.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*
  • Smoking Cessation / statistics & numerical data
  • Smoking Prevention / methods*
  • Smoking Prevention / statistics & numerical data
  • Tobacco Products / statistics & numerical data
  • Tobacco Use / epidemiology
  • Young Adult