The Reliability of Self-Reported Cigarette Consumption in the United States

Office on Smoking and Health, Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control, Rockville, MD 20857.
American Journal of Public Health (Impact Factor: 4.55). 09/1989; 79(8):1020-3. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.79.8.1020
Source: PubMed


To investigate the possibility that self-reported smoking is not a valid measure for assessing trends in smoking prevalence, we compared total self-reported cigarette consumption with the adjusted consumption data from cigarette excise taxes as reported by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the period 1974 through 1985. Self-reported consumption was calculated by using data from the National Health Interview Surveys (NHIS) for adults and from the National Household Surveys on Drug Abuse for adolescents. For this period, the average ratio of self-reported cigarette consumption to the USDA estimate of consumption was 0.72 (range = 0.69 to 0.78). There was no statistical difference in this consumption ratio from year to year, indicating no apparent increase in the underreporting of cigarette smoking in these surveys. We conclude that cross-sectional surveys of self-reported smoking status remain a reliable surveillance tool for monitoring changes in population smoking behavior.

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    • "Finally, the study relied on selfreported smoking status without biochemical verification, and hence the information is subject to a potential reporting bias. Nonetheless, previous reports have underlined the accuracy of self-reported measurements (Hatziandreu et al., 1989). Strengths of our survey include the representativeness of the adult population of 18 strategically selected European countries, the same questionnaire agreed by a core of tobacco control experts and administered face to face in the 18 countries , the standardized use of a single definition of current smokers, and the use of the HSI, a validated score of dependence widely used for clinical and epidemiological purposes (Pérez-Ríos et al., 2009). "
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    • "Second, self-reported income and cocaine purchasing/use may not reflect actual levels. However , studies on cigarettes, alcohol, and other drug use (Hatziandreu et al., 1989; Smith et al., 1990; Darke, 1998) suggest that self-report is highly correlated with variables such as state per capita sales and biomarkers, thus these may be reliable estimates of actual use. This semi-structured interview approach used careful probing to ensure that participants were internally consistent when responding, and a few subjects' data were excluded for unreliability . "
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    • "The rates range from 22% to 31% in the United States between 1974 and 1985, respectively [16], from 28% to 30% in New Zealand in the period of 1976 and 1981 [17], and from 25% to 35% in Italy in the period of 2001 and 2008 [18], where social acceptability of smoking is less than it is in many developing countries. Given the continued high prevalence of smoking in Vietnam, the social acceptability of smoking is assumed to be equal or less than those of industrialized countries thirty years ago, and therefore three magnitudes of under-reporting, 10, 20 and 30% were applied to sensitivity analysis [16]. "
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