Trends of smoking habits in northern Italy (1986-1990). The WHO MONICA Project in Area Brianza, Italy. MONICA Area Brianza Research Group

Eur J Epidemiol. 1995 Jun;11(3):251-8. doi: 10.1007/BF01719428.


The trends of age-gender specific prevalence of self-reported smoking habits are presented, observed in two population surveys, performed in 1986-87 and 1989-90 in Area Biranza, a northern Italian industrialized district where a WHO MONICA Centre is located. Methods were internationally standardized to obtain comparable data on two independent random samples, each composed of 1,600 subjects, age-sex stratified and extracted from the 25-64 year old residents. A closed question interview was administered to identify smoking condition (smoker, past-smoker, occasional smoker, never smoker), number of cigarettes consumed per day and attained educational level, categorized in compulsory school and post-compulsory school. Serum thiocyanate was measured as a validation index, using a cutpoint of > 100 mumol l-1 to detect false negatives. Trends in smoking prevalence are analyzed taking into account influences of education in the presence of an anti-smoking policy that was started in Italy toward the end of the eighties. Self-reported data, confirmed by serum thiocyanate, show a consistent decline of smokers among males (from 48 to 41%), more evident in younger age groups. In females, smoking prevalence is stable (23-24%), although thiocyanate levels in the whole samples indicate a slight but significant tendency to decrease. Education demonstrates positive influences against smoking, particularly in younger male classes. In females a crossover effect is observable: in the second survey youngest group, education results protective against smoking; the contrary is true in the older groups. Our data, detailing what was initially recognized in previous Italian surveys, may be useful to specify the directions of future preventive actions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Distribution
  • Smoking / blood
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Thiocyanates / blood


  • Thiocyanates
  • thiocyanate