Protocol - Cigarette Smoking Status - Adult

Add to Toolkit

Protocol Name from Source:

Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH)


Publicly available


Measurement to determine respondent’s cigarette smoking status.


The Working Group acknowledges that the following questions may gather sensitive information relating to the use of substances and/or illegal conduct. If the information is released it might be damagng to an individual’s employability, lead to social stigmatization, or other consequences.

For information on obtaining a Certificate of Confidentiality, which helps researchers protect the privacy of human research participants, please go to the National Human Genome Research Institute’s Institutional Review Board website.

Note to interviewer: Based on responses provided to earlier questions, the respondent may also be asked Questions 2, 3, and 4 (see interviewer notes before these questions).

1. Have you ever smoked a cigarette, even one or two puffs?

[ ] 1 Yes

[ ] 2 No

[ ] -8 DON’T KNOW

[ ] -7 REFUSED

If Question 1 is "Yes," then respondent is asked:

2. Do you now smoke cigarettes…

[ ] 1 Every day

[ ] 2 Some days

[ ] 3 Not at all

[ ] -8 DON’T KNOW

[ ] -7 REFUSED

3. How many cigarettes have you smoked in your entire life? A pack usually has 20 cigarettes in it.

[ ] 1 1 or more puffs but never a whole cigarette

[ ] 2 1 to 10 cigarettes (about ½ pack total)

[ ] 3 11 to 20 cigarettes (about ½ pack to 1 pack)

[ ] 4 21 to 50 cigarettes (more than 1 pack but less than 3 packs)

[ ] 5 51 to 99 cigarettes (more than 2 ½ packs but less than 5 packs)

[ ] 6 100 or more cigarettes (5 packs or more)

[ ] -8 DON’T KNOW

[ ] -7 REFUSED

If Question 1 is "Yes" and Question 2 is "Some days" (Current Some-Day Smoker) or if Question 1 is "Yes" and Question 2 is "Not at all" (Former Smoker), then respondent is asked:

4. Around this time 12 months ago, were you smoking cigarettes every day, some days, or not at all?

[ ] 1 Every day

[ ] 2 Some days

[ ] 3 Not at all

[ ] -8 DON’T KNOW

[ ] -7 REFUSED

Interpreting responses to assess smoking status of adults:

  • If answer to Question 1 is "No," then respondent is a "Never Smoker."
  • If answer to Question 1 is "Yes" and answer to Question 2 is "Every day," then respondent is a "Current Every-Day Smoker."
  • If answer to Question 1 is "Yes" and answer to Question 2 is "Some days," then respondent is a "Current Some-Day Smoker."
  • If answer to Question 1 is "Yes" and answer to Question 2 is "Not at all," then respondent is a "Former Smoker."

Question 4 allows further classification of Current Some-Day and Former Smokers into those who smoked every day in the past from those who have not done so. The former would be indicating heavier past exposure.

Personnel and Training Required

Interviewer must be trained and found to be competent to conduct personal interviews with individuals from the general population. The interviewer should be trained to prompt respondents further if a "don’t know" response is provided.

Equipment Needs

While the source instrument was developed to be administered by computer, the PhenX Working Group acknowledges these questions can be administered in a noncomputerized format.


Requirement CategoryRequired
Average time of greater than 15 minutes in an unaffected individualNo
Major equipmentNo
Specialized requirements for biospecimen collectionNo
Specialized trainingNo

Mode of Administration


Life Stage:


Specific Instructions:

The respondent will answer a question about whether he or she has ever smoked a cigarette and whether he or she now smokes every day or some days, or whether he or she is a former smoker. The respondent will also be asked how many cigarettes he or she has smoked in his or her lifetime up to the 100 cigarette threshold. Lastly, if the respondent is a Current Some-Day or Former Smoker, the respondent is asked if a year ago, he or she had smoked every day.

Research Domain Information

Release Date:

November 21, 2016


Questions asking the respondent about smoking status in his or her entire life.


This measure can be used to assess the participant’s lifetime exposure to cigarette use, it determines smoking status, i.e., if they are a Current Every-Day Smoker or a Current Some-Day Smoker, a Former Smoker, or a Non Smoker or a Never Smoker.

Selection Rationale

The Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study has questions comparable to the Tobacco Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey (TUS-CPS), National Center for Health Statistics - National Health Interview Survey (NHIS),National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES),NCI’s Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS), and SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).


English, Spanish


Common Data Elements (CDE)Tobacco Smoking History Indicator2436233CDE Browser

Process and Review

The [link[phenx.org/node/101|Expert Review Panel #3]] (ERP 3) reviewed the measures in Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Substances, and Substance Abuse and Addiction domains.

Guidance from ERP 3 includes:

• Updated protocol

• New Data Dictionary

Back-compatible: Not back-compatible (vastly different than previous protocol which would require a new data dictionary) and not recommended for use (discredited or no longer considered broadly validated)

Previous version in Toolkit archive ([link[www.phenxtoolkit.org/index.php?pageLink=browse.archive.protocols&id=30000|link]]),


National Institutes of Health, U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2013). Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study: Final Adult Baseline (Wave 1) Questionnaire. Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health.

General References


Protocol ID:



Export Variables
Variable NameVariable IDVariable DescriptionVersiondbGaP Mapping