Monitoring the use of alcohol and tobacco in the population is important for public health planning and evaluating the efficacy of intervention strategies. The aim of this study was to use wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) to estimate alcohol and tobacco consumption in a number of major cities across China and compare WBE estimates with other data sources. Daily composite influent wastewater samples were collected from wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) across China in 2014 (n = 53) and 2016 (n = 45). The population-normalized daily consumption estimated by WBE were compared with other data sources where available. The average consumption of alcohol was 8.1 ± 7.0 mL ethanol/person aged 15+/day (EPD) in the investigated cities of 2016 while those involved in 2014 had an average consumption of 4.7 ± 3.0 EPD. The average tobacco consumption was estimated to be 3.7 ± 2.2 cigarettes/person aged 15+/day (CPD) in 2016 and 3.1 ± 1.9 CPD in 2014. The changes in the average consumption in those cities from 2014 to 2016 were supported by the results from a limited number of WWTPs where samples were collected in both years. Consumption of alcohol and tobacco in urban China is at a medium level compared with other countries on a per capita basis. WBE estimates of tobacco consumption were relatively comparable with results of traditional surveys and sales statistics. WBE estimates of alcohol consumption were lower than WHO survey results, probably due to EtS degradation and uncertainty in the EtS excretion factor.
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