Context The World Health Organization has advocated that physicians should not
smoke cigarettes and surveys on this issue should be conducted among medical
professionals. However, no nationally representative surveys of smoking among
physicians in Japan have been reported.
Objectives To estimate the nationwide prevalence of smoking and determine the attitudes
toward smoking among Japanese physicians.
Design, Setting, and Participants Descriptive study in which anonymous questionnaires were mailed to 4500
randomly selected physician members of the Japan Medical Association in the
year 2000, which represents 63% of all Japanese physicians; 3771 (84%) respondents
were included in the analysis.
Main Outcome Measures Smoking prevalence among physicians, history of smoking, and attitudes
Results The prevalence of cigarette smoking among physicians was 27.1% for men
and 6.8% for women, about half the age-adjusted prevalences among the general
Japanese population. Smoking prevalence was higher among male physicians in
Japan than those in the United States (3%-10%) and the United Kingdom (4%-5%).
Smoking prevalence differed by age, with the highest prevalence among male
past smokers aged 70 years or older (51.8%; 95% confidence interval [CI],
47.4%-56.2%). Among male current smokers, the highest rates were for those
aged 40 to 49 years (31%; 95% CI, 27.5%-34.5%); rates for female past smokers
were highest among those aged 50 to 59 years (10.7%; 95% CI, 6.6%-14.8%) and
for female current smokers were highest among those aged 70 years or older
(8.2%; 95% CI, 4.8%-11.6%). Nonsmoking physicians had more unfavorable views
toward smoking and were more active in encouraging patients not to smoke than
those physicians who smoked.
Conclusion Smoking cessation programs should be introduced among Japanese physicians
to reduce the number of smoking physicians. Also, a continuing education program
should be instituted to motivate physicians about their role in society.