Codes and Frequencies
SMOKEV reports whether the respondent has ever smoked 100 cigarettes in their entire lifetime. In 1970 interviewers asked, "Has [person] smoked 100 cigarettes during his entire life?" In 1976-1977 and 1997 forward the question wording changed slightly, with interviewers asking, "Have you smoked at least 100 cigarettes in your entire life?"
The 1970 Field Representative's Manual instructed interviewers to "[e]xclude marijuana, a type of wild tobacco, (also called "pot" or "grass')" when accepting responses to the smoking-related questions.
According to the 1970 Manual, if respondents volunteered that they smoked cigarettes made of non-tobacco products, "such as lettuce or cabbage leaves," interviewers were to rephrase the question to, "Excluding any nontobacco cigarettes, have you smoked at least...?"
The 1997-2000 Field Representative's Manuals stated, "The questions in this section concern cigarette smoking only. Accept whatever the Sample Adult reports, except if it is volunteered that he/she smoked a pipe, cigars of any kind, marijuana, hashish, 'crack', or the like." The Manuals for 2001 forward define a cigarette as "anything the respondent reports except cigars or any kind of marijuana."
The 1970 Field Manual states that one hundred cigarettes is equal to five packs, but instructs interviewers to "ask the question as worded because the respondent might misinterpret 'five packs' as referring to five packs a day.
In 1997 forward respondents who answered "Yes" in SMOKEV (Ever smoked 100 cigarettes in life) were asked, "Do you now smoke cigarettes every day, some days, or not at all?" (SMOKFREQNOW). Depending on their response in SMOKFREQNOW, respondents were also able to receive one or more of the following questions in 1997 forward:
- "On the average, how many cigarettes do you now smoke a day?" (CIGSDAY1)
- "On how many of the past 30 days did you smoke a cigarette?" (CIGDAYMO)
- "On the average, when you smoked during the past 30 days, about how many cigarettes did you smoke a day?" (CIGSDAY2)
The variable CIGSDAY (Average number of cigarettes smoked per day: Current Smokers) is available for 1970, 1976-1977, and 1997 forward. The variable SMOKAGEREG (available for 1970 and 1997 forward) reports the age at which respondents first started to smoke "fairly regularly."
Along with changes in universe, procedural and questionnaire changes limit the comparability of this variable over time. In 1970, a respondent representing the family (a proxy) could answer the question associated with CIGSDAY for other family members age 17+. In 1976-1977 and 1997 forward, except in rare cases where disability precluded self-reporting, sample persons (1976-1977) and sample adults (1997 forward) answered the question themselves. Because self-reporting is likely to be more accurate than proxy reporting, researchers should exercise caution when comparing results between 1970 and 1976-1977/1997 forward.
Questionnaire design changes introduced in 2019 limit comparability with earlier years. The NHIS questionnaire was substantially redesigned in 2019 to introduce a different data collection structure and new content. For more information on changes in terminology, universes, and data collection methods beginning in 2019, please see the user note.
- 1970: Persons age 17+.
- 1983; 1985; 1987; 1988: Sample persons age 18+.
- 1990-1992: Sample persons age 18+.
- 1993: Half of sample persons age 18+ in quarters 3 and 4 (excluded from AIDS supplement).
- 1994-1995: Half of sample persons age 18+ (excluded from AIDS supplement).
- 1997-2018: Sample adults age 18+.
- 2019-2021: Sample adults age 18+.
- 1970, 1976-1977, 1983, 1985, 1987-1988, 1990-1995, 1997-2021