1997 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse:  Preliminary Results

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II. Alcohol and Cigarette Use Surveys

National Health Interview Survey Year 2000 Objectives (NHIS-2000)

The results of the NHIS-2000 were published in December 1997 (CDC 1997). This survey of approximately 21,000 adults was conducted by the Bureau of the Census for the National Center for Health Statistics. The survey estimated that, in 1995, 25.0 percent of the population age 18 and over were current smokers. Current smokers are defined as those who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime and answer that they currently smoke, including those who smoke only on some days. This definition is somewhat different from the NHSDA definition of current smoking (any use in the past month) which resulted in a prevalence of 30.0 percent for adults in 1995. The 1997 estimate for adults was 30.8 percent.

Monitoring the Future (MTF)

School-based surveys have shown increases in smoking rates among students from 1991 to 1997. Past-month smoking rates found in the Monitoring the Future Study (MTF) were 14.3 percent in 1991, 21.0 percent in 1996, and 19.4 percent in 1997 for 8th graders. For tenth graders, rates were 20.8 percent in 1991, 30.4 percent in 1996, and 29.8 percent in 1997. For 12th graders, rates were 28.3 percent in 1991, 34.0 percent in 1996, and 36.5 percent in 1997. Small but statistically significant increases were found for high school seniors only between 1996 and 1997.

Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS)

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey also found increases in current cigarette use among students in grades 9-12 from 27.5 percent in 1991 to 36.4 percent in 1997 (CDC 1998). The overall prevalences of lifetime, current, and frequent cigarette use were 70.2%, 36.4% and 16.7%, respectively. While the NHSDA trend for youth (age 12-17) smoking has not shown these increases, the NHSDA estimates for years prior to 1994 were apparently substantial underestimates because the data were collected without private self-administered answer sheets. When the NHSDA converted to the use of these answer sheets in 1994, the smoking rate for adolescents approximately doubled. This raises questions about the accuracy of the NHSDA measurement of the trend prior to 1994, even after adjustments are made to account for the effect of the new questionnaire.

Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health

The Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health (US DHHS 1994) included smoking prevalence data from a number of sources, including the NHSDA. Comparisons between the various sources were made and methodological differences were assessed. These comparisons were based on NHSDA data prior to 1994, which were based on the interviewer-administered smoking questions, and thus show low rates of smoking in the NHSDA, particularly among youth.

National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health)

Results from the September 1994 to April 1995, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health described above) indicate that nearly 3.2 percent of 7th-8th graders smoked 6 or more cigarettes a day as did 12.8 percent of 9th-12th graders (Resnick, et.al. 1997). In addition, 7.3 percent of 7th-8th graders used alcohol 2 or more days in the past month as did 23.1 percent of 9th-12th graders.

National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey (NLAES)

NLAES was conducted by the Bureau of the Census for the NIAAA in 1992. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 42,862 respondents age 18 and older in the contiguous U.S. It was designed to study the drinking practices, behaviors, and related problems in the general public. The survey included an extensive set of questions designed to assess the presence of symptoms of alcohol abuse and dependence during the prior 12 months, based on the criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) (American Psychiatric Association 1994). NLAES estimated that 4.4 percent of adults werealcohol dependent and another 3.0 percent were classified as abusing alcohol, but not dependent, within the past year (Grant et al 1995).

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This page was last updated on February 05, 2009.