Objectives: To assess long-term trends in cigarette smoking according to the combined influence of sex and education, this study examined smoking prevalence in successive US birth cohorts.
Methods: Data from nationally representative surveys were examined to assess smoking prevalence for six successive 10-year birth cohorts stratified by race or ethnicity, sex, and educational attainment.
Results: Substantial declines in smoking prevalence were found among men who had a high school education or more, regardless of race or ethnicity, and slight declines among women of the same educational background were revealed. However, little change was found in smoking prevalence among men of all race/ethnic groups with less than a high school education, and large increases were found among women with the same years of schooling, especially if they were White or African American.
Conclusions: These data suggest that persons of low educational attainment have yet to benefit from policies and education about the health consequences of cigarette smoking.