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Compared with the 27% of men in the general population who smoked cigarettes, higher levels of cigarette smoking were reported by Bangladeshi (44%), Irish (39%) and Black Caribbean (35%) men. Prevalence was lowest among Chinese men (17%), and was similar to the general population for Pakistani and Indian men (26% and 23% respectively). Age standardisation confirmed this pattern.

Irish women (33%) were more likely to smoke cigarettes than women in the general population (27%), while prevalence among Black Caribbean women was similar (25%). Among women in the other groups, cigarette smoking was very low, ranging from 1% of Bangladeshi women to 9% of Chinese women. Age standardisation did not change this picture.

South Asian informants were also asked about their use of chewing tobacco. Of the three South Asian groups, Bangladeshi men and women were the most likely to report tobacco chewing: 19% of men and 26% of women, compared with between 2% and 6% for Indians and Pakistanis of both sexes.

The chart shows the prevalence of all tobacco use (cigarette smoking and/or pipe or cigar smoking and/or tobacco chewing), together with prevalence of cigarette smoking. The overall prevalence of tobacco use was 32% among men and 27% among women in the general population. As the chart shows, the biggest difference between cigarette smoking prevalence and overall tobacco use was found in Bangladeshis (for men, an increase from 44% to 53%, for women, from 1% to 27%, once other forms of tobacco are included).

Source: The Health Survey of England 1999