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General Concepts

  • Current smoker: An adult who has smoked 100 cigarettes in his or her lifetime and who currently smokes cigarettes. Beginning in 1991 this group was divided into “everyday” smokers or “somedays” smokers.
  • Never smoker: An adult who has never smoked, or who has smoked less than 100 cigarettes in his or her lifetime.
  • Former smoker: An adult who has smoked at least 100 cigarettes in his or her lifetime but who had quit smoking at the time of interview.
  • Some days smoker: An adult who has smoked at least 100 cigarettes in his or her lifetime, who smokes now, but does not smoke every day. Previously called an “occasional smoker”.
  • Every day smoker: An adult who has smoked at least 100 cigarettes in his or her lifetime, and who now smokes every day. Previously called a “regular smoker”.
  • Smoking status: A recoded variable based on several questions about cigarette smoking. It includes the categories of current smoker, former smoker, never smoked, and smoking status unknown.
  • Amount smoked: The average number of cigarettes smoked per day, on days when cigarettes were smoked.
  • Quit attempt: Until 1990, the NHIS asked smokers about any “serious” attempts to quit smoking. From 1991 on, a quit attempt was more quantitatively defined as having stopped smoking for one day or longer with the intention of quitting.
  • Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS): Also called second-hand smoke. Inhaling ETS is called passive smoking. Usually refers to cigarette smoke in the environment of a nonsmoker.

Types of Cigarettes

  • Cigarette: A thin cylinder of ground or shredded tobacco that is wrapped in paper, lit, and smoked.
  • Bidi: Small, thin, hand-rolled cigarettes imported to the United States primarily from India and other Southeast Asian countries. Bidis contain tobacco and can be flavored. When smoked, bidis have higher concentrations of nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide than conventional cigarettes sold in the United States.

Other Tobacco Products that are Smoked

  • Cigar: A tube of tobacco that is thicker than a cigarette, wrapped in tobacco leaf, lit, and smoked.
  • Pipe: A tube with a small bowl at one end that is filled with tobacco, lit, and smoked.

Smokeless Tobacco Products

  • Chewing tobacco: A type of shredded or twisted smokeless tobacco that the user keeps in his or her mouth, between the cheek and gum.
  • Snuff: A type of finely ground smokeless tobacco contained in a small teabag-like pouch that is kept in the mouth. Snuff can also be sniffed.