Australian smoking rates falling

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31 May 2017
Embargoed: 11.30 am (Canberra time)

Australian smoking rates falling

With World No Tobacco Day on 31 May highlighting the theme of “Tobacco - a threat to development”, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reports that smoking rates in Australia have dropped by nearly 10 per cent over the past two decades.

“Just over one in seven (14.5 per cent) adults were smokers in 2014-15 compared with nearly one in four (23.8 per cent) in 1995,” said Louise Gates, Director of Health at the ABS.

“In particular, rates of daily smoking have decreased considerably among younger adults (18-44 year olds). In 2014-15, 16.3 per cent of 18-44 year olds smoked daily compared with 28.2 per cent in 2001. This drop is due to people quitting and people not starting to smoke. In 2014-15, 60 per cent of younger adults (18-44 years) had never smoked and 23 per cent were ex-smokers,” she said.

Smoking rates in Australia

However, there are still variations in smoking rates across the country. The Northern Territory continues to have the highest smoking rate at over one in five (21 per cent) adults smoking daily in 2014-15, but this has dropped since 2001 where 30 per cent were daily smokers. Tasmania also had a high rate at 18 per cent in 2014-15.

In 2014-15, people living in Outer Regional and Remote areas of Australia had higher rates of daily smoking (20.9 per cent) than people in Inner Regional areas (16.7 per cent) or Major Cities (13.0 per cent). While rates of daily smoking have decreased across all remote 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 per cent in 2004-05).

Rates of smoking are also considerably higher among people living in areas of Australia with the most socio-economic disadvantage. In 2014-15, 21.4 per cent of people living in areas of most disadvantage smoked daily, compared with 8.0 per cent of people living in areas of the least disadvantage. Rates of smoking have decreased over the past decade in all quintiles of disadvantage.

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

At the same time, Ms Gates noted that “interestingly, rates of smoking amongst young adults (18-24 years) are similar for both men and women (16.2 per cent and 17.3 per cent respectively)”.

Medical conditions associated with tobacco smoking are some of the largest preventable causes of death and disease in Australia. Tobacco smoking 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.

For details visit: National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15

For help with quitting smoking contact Quitline 13 78 48 or visit