This study determines whether the temporal variations in smoking habits across generations and genders and among groups with differing levels of education fit the pattern proposed by the theory of the diffusion of innovations (TDI) (Rogers, 2003). We focus on the Italian case and employ a pseudo-panel derived from repeated cross-sections of the annual household survey, “Aspects of Daily Life,” that was part of the Multipurpose Survey carried out by the Italian National Statistical Office (ISTAT) for the period 1997 to 2012. The results confirm Rogers’ TDI and show that smoking prevalence has declined over time and across age cohorts: Younger men of all educational levels and women with higher education are less likely to smoke than are those in other cohorts, while less-educated women who entered the smoking-diffusion process later than others are more likely to smoke. Hence, socio-economic differences in smoking continue to persist, especially for women. According to Rogers’ TDI, smoking prevalence is expected to continue to decline, particularly among little-educated women.
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