Background. Tobacco smoking is estimated to kill more than 44 000 South Africans every year. Studies have shown that since the introduction of tobacco control measures, national smoking prevalence has declined in South Africa (SA).
Objective. To determine the prevalence of tobacco smoking over a 7-year period in five impoverished neighbourhoods in Johannesburg, SA. Methods. Data were collected through the annual administration of a prestructured questionnaire to one adult respondent in preselected dwellings from 2006 to 2012. Information was collected on socioeconomic status, smoking practices and health status.
Results. Over the 7-year period of the analysis, smoking levels remained unchanged. The proportion of households with one or more smokers varied significantly across the five study neighbourhoods. Approximately 20% of households in Hillbrow and as many as 77% in Riverlea had a member who smoked.
Conclusions. Despite a national downward trend in smoking levels, tobacco use remains high and persistent in certain vulnerable communities, requiring scaled-up action to reduce the risk of a range of tobacco-related diseases.