About the Smoking Data

Information on this page:

What do these data tell us?

  • The percent of adults (18+ years of age) in Minnesota who are current and ever cigarette smokers
  • The percent of Minnesota adults who are smokers by gender, education, income, and age
  • If a measure is increasing or decreasing

What is a weighted percent?

A weighted percent is an adjustment of the crude percent (which is just the count divided by sample size or N) and takes into account variables like sampling design and characteristics of survey respondents (e.g. age, sex, race/ethnicity) to make the percentage generalizable to all Minnesota adults. Sample weighting is done so that unbiased population estimates can be calculated using the results of a survey.

How can we use these data?

  • To inform the public about the proportion of the adult population that currently smokes or has ever smoked
  • To explore trends in the percentage of current and ever smokers
  • For program planning and evaluation by state and local partners

What can these data not tell us?

  • Measures at a county level in Minnesota
  • Measures of Minnesotans exposed to secondhand smoke. See Environmental Tobacco Smoke to explore these data and measures.
  • Measures of smoking among youth under 18 years of age
  • Duration of smoking or amount of cigarettes (over 100) smoked by individuals

What is the source of the data?

The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), administered annually by the Minnesota Center for Health Statistics in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To learn more about BRFSS, including survey methodology (i.e. how participants are chosen) and full length questionnaires, visit CDC BRFSS.

How are current smokers identified?

For Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System purposes, a current smoker is defined as an individual who reports having smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime and who currently smokes some days or every day. Other tobacco products that can be smoked (also called ‘combustible tobacco products') such as cigars, cigarillos, and pipes are not accounted for in current smoking measures.

How are ever smokers identified?

For Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System purposes, an ever smoker is defined as an individual who reports having smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime regardless of whether they currently smoke or have quit smoking. Other tobacco products that can be smoked (also called ‘combustible tobacco products') such as cigars, cigarillos, and pipes are not accounted for in ever smoking measures.

What are the limitations of the data?

  • The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System administers questionnaires to a sample of Minnesota adults in households. It does not represent all Minnesota adults, such as those in long-term care facilities, nursing homes, the military or correctional institutions.
  • BRFSS is a telephone survey and therefore does not reach adults who have no telephone. As with most surveys that rely on telephone interviewing, some subgroups, such as specific racial or ethnic minority communities, are likely to be underrepresented.
  • Measures of cigarette smoking in Minnesota's adult population are derived from smoking status as self-reported by survey respondents. These individuals may refuse to answer specific questions or may misreport their smoking status. Individuals who have missing information for a given question due to refusal to answer or any other reason are excluded from analysis for corresponding measures.
  • BRFSS data cannot be used to derive smoking measures for youth under 18 years of age. However, preventing tobacco use among youth and young adults remains a priority on the state and national levels. The Minnesota Center for Health Statistics (MCHS) produces Tobacco Reports that include data on tobacco use, characteristics of smokers, and secondhand smoke exposure among public school students in grades 6 through 12 from the Minnesota Youth Tobacco and Asthma Survey.

Why can't I compare data from 2010 and before to data from 2011 and after?

Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data from 2011 or later should not be compared to earlier years of data. Prior to 2011, BRFSS only sampled adults in households with landline telephones. Beginning in 2011, BRFSS included adults who received the majority of their calls on cellular telephones. Also beginning in 2011, the weighting methodology changed to better account for underrepresented groups of people (such as young adults and racial/ethnic minorities) and allow for the incorporation of cellular telephone data. This new methodology reduces bias and increases the representativeness of estimates.

How was statistical significance tested?

Unless otherwise noted, differences between groups described on the Smoking pages are statistically significant. A difference, increase, or decrease is indicated as "statistically significant" when the 95% confidence intervals for weighted percentages do not overlap. In statistics, this means that two or more estimates (i.e. percentages) are significantly different at the α=0.05 significance level.

Where can I find comparison data?

The Minnesota Adult Tobacco Survey (MATS) measured current, former, and ever smoking in the adult Minnesota population from 1999 to 2010 using definitions identical to BRFSS for current and ever smokers.

CDC BRFSS measures smoking status in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam. Four-level smoking status and current smoking status for each state/territory can be easily tracked using the Prevalence and Trends Database.

What was the sample size for the survey?

Sample size (N) by year for the BRFSS data includes only respondents who answered all questions used to derive smoking status.

Survey Year N
2000 2848
2001 3952
2002 4478
2003 3865
2004 4421
2005 2810
2006 4247
2007 4768
2008 4282
2009 5597
2010 8933
2011 15319
2012 11889
2013 13794
 

Where can I find more technical information about the data?

To explore technical information and full datasets by survey year, visit CDC BRFSS.