4364.0.55.001 - National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15  
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SMOKING

Tobacco smoking is one of the largest preventable causes of death and disease in Australia[1]. It is associated with an increased risk of a wide range of health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer, renal disease, eye disease and respiratory conditions such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis. Tobacco was responsible for 7.8% of the total burden of disease and injury in Australia in 2003, equivalent to around 15,000 deaths per year[2], and was estimated to cost Australia $31.5 billion in social (including health) and economic costs in 2004-05[3].

Adults 18 years and over

In 2014-15, 14.5% of adults aged 18 years and over were daily smokers (2.6 million adults), down from 16.1% in 2011-12. This decrease is a continuation of the trend over the past two decades. In 2001, 22.4% of adults smoked daily while 23.8% of adults smoked daily in 1995.

Men have been consistently more likely to smoke daily than women. In 2014-15, 16.9% of males and 12.1% of women smoked daily, with a similar but higher pattern in 1995 (27.3% of men compared with 20.3% of women).

Graph Image for Persons aged 18 years and over - Proportion who were current daily smokers, 1995 to 2014-15

Source(s): National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15



The following graph shows decreases in daily smoking rates across age and sex from 1995 to 2014-15.

Graph Image for Persons aged 18 years and over - Proportion who are current daily smokers by age, 1995 to 2014-15

Source(s): National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15



In particular, rates of daily smoking have decreased considerably amongst younger adults since 2001, while rates for older adults have also decreased but to a lesser extent. In 2001, 28.2% of 18-44 year olds smoked daily, decreasing to 16.3% in 2014-15. Of adults aged 45 years and over, 15.9% smoked daily in 2001, decreasing to 12.7% in 2014-15.

Graph Image for Persons aged 18 years and over - Proportion who were current daily smokers, 2001 and 2014-15

Source(s): National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15



A further 1.5% of adults smoked less often than daily in 2014-15, while nearly one third (31.4%) were ex-smokers and just over half (52.6%) had never smoked.

Similar to 2011-12, the Northern Territory had the highest rate of daily smokers (20.9%) in 2014-15, followed by Tasmania (17.9%). The Australian Capital Territory had the lowest rate of daily smokers in 2014-15 (12.4%).

In 2014-15, people living in Outer Regional and Remote areas of Australia had higher rates of daily smoking (20.9%) than people in Inner Regional areas (16.7%) or Major Cities (13.0%). While rates of daily smoking have decreased across all remoteness areas over the past 10-15 years, the rate for Outer Regional and Remote areas is only now similar to that of Major Cities a decade ago (19.9% in 2004-05).

Graph Image for Persons aged 18 years and over - Proportion who were current daily smokers by Remoteness Areas, 2001 to 2014-15

Source(s): National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15



Rates of smoking are also considerably higher amongst people living in areas of Australia with the most disadvantage. In 2014-15, 21.4% of people living in areas of most disadvantage (first quintile) smoked daily, compared with 8.0% of people living in areas of the least disadvantage (fifth quintile). Rates of smoking have decreased over the past decade in all quintiles of disadvantage.

Graph Image for Persons aged 18 years and over - Proportion who were current daily smokers by level of disadvantage, 2004-05 and 2014-15

Footnote(s): (a) Based on the 2011 Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage. A lower Index of Disadvantage quintile (e.g. the first quintile) indicates an area with relatively greater disadvantage. A higher Index of Disadvantage (e.g. the fifth quintile) indicates an area with a relative lack of disadvantage. See the Glossary for more information.

Source(s): National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15



Persons 15-17 years

In 2014-15, 2.7% of 15-17 year olds were daily smokers, similar to 2011-12 (4.2%). A further 0.5% smoked less often than daily, 1.8% were ex-smokers, and 94.2% reported that they had never smoked.

Some under-reporting of persons identifying as current smokers may have occurred due to social pressures, particularly in cases where other household members were present at the interview.

ENDNOTES

1 Department of Health, 'Tobacco control' <http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/tobacco>; last accessed 03/12/2015.
2 Begg S, Vos T, Barker B, Stevenson C, Stanley L and Lopez AD 2007. The Burden of Disease and Injury in Australia 2003, AIHW cat. no. PHE 82, Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, <http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=6442467990>; last accessed 03/12/2015.
3 Collins D & Lapsley H 2008. The Costs of Tobacco, Alcohol and Illicit Drug Abuse to Australian Society in 2004/05 - Summary version, National Drug Strategy Monograph series no. 66, Canberra: DoHA, <http://www.nationaldrugstrategy.gov.au/internet/drugstrategy/publishing.nsf/Content/mono66/$File/mono66.pdf>; last accessed 03/12/2015.