Objectives. To describe changes in the prevalence of cigarette smoking in the middle income country of Mauritius from 1987 to 1998, and to relate these changes to legislative and health promotion efforts over the same period. Design. Questionnaire survey. Setting. Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean with a population of about 1.2 million (about 70% south Asian, 2% Chinese, and 28% Creole). Participants . Data were obtained from 5072 participants in 1987, 6573 in 1992, and 6281 in 1998. Main outcome measures. Prevalence of current smoking in 1987, 1992, and 1998, sales of cigarettes in Mauritius, and information on activities for control of tobacco. Results. Self reported cigarette smoking has been decreasing in Mauritius since 1987, with the largest decrease between 1987 and 1992. From 1987 to 1998 smoking prevalence decreased by 23% in men and 61% in women. Smoking decreased across all age and ethnic groups and across different levels of income and education. Sales of cigarettes also decreased in line with smoking prevalence. Conclusions. The introduction of cigarette taxes, a limited health promotion programme, and the absence of massive promotional campaigns by the sole tobacco company on Mauritius have led to a striking and continued decrease in smoking prevalence and cigarette consumption on the island.
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