General Concepts

  • Amount smoked: The average number of cigarettes smoked per day, on days when cigarettes were smoked.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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”.
  • 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.
  • Never smoker: An adult who has never smoked, or who has smoked less than 100 cigarettes in his or her lifetime.
  • 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.
  • Someday 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”.
  • 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.

Types of Cigarettes

  • 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.
  • Cigarette: A thin cylinder of ground or shredded tobacco that is wrapped in paper, lit, and smoked.

Other Tobacco Products that are Smoked

  • Cigar: A tube of tobacco that is thicker than a cigarette, wrapped in tobacco leaf, lit, and smoked. Cigars include regular cigars, cigarillos, and little filtered cigars.
  • Hookah: Hookahs are water pipes that are used to smoke specially made tobacco that comes in different flavors, such as apple, mint, cherry, chocolate, coconut, licorice, cappuccino, and watermelon. Also called water pipes.
  • 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.
  • Dip: Dipping tobacco (so called because users dip their fingers into the package to pinch a portion to insert into the mouth) is moist ground tobacco placed between the lower lip or cheek and the gums; it is not used nasally.
  • Dissolvables: Dissolvables are finely ground tobacco pressed into shapes such as tablets, orbs, sticks, or strips and slowly dissolve in the mouth.
  • Snuff: Finely ground smokeless tobacco usually sold in round cans. Can be placed between the check and gum or may be sniffed.
  • Snus: Moist snuff packaged in ready-to-use pouches that resemble small tea bags Pouch is placed between cheek or teeth and gums; does not require spitting