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Smoking statistics

Summary

Smoking-related diseases killed 14,900 Australians in 2004-05. This means there were 40 preventable deaths every day. Major tobacco-related diseases include cancer, heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Smoking kills more men than women, and smoking rates are higher among younger age groups and people with a lower level of education.

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Smoking-related diseases killed 14,900 Australians in the financial year 2004–05. This equals 40 preventable deaths every day. The major tobacco-related diseases include cancer, heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Smoking resulted in over 750,000 days spent in hospital and cost $670 million in hospital costs in the financial year 2004–05.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, most deaths resulting from tobacco smoking occurred in people aged 65 years or more. However, around one in five deaths occurred in the 35–64 years age group.

Smoking kills more men than women – 9,700 men compared to 5,100 women. Cancer is the number one cause of tobacco-related death in men (57 per cent) and women (51 per cent), with lung cancer accounting for around 75 per cent and 72 per cent of cancers for men and women respectively. Lung cancer currently causes the most cancer deaths in Australia and this is due mainly to smoking.

Smoking behaviours


In 2010, around 20 per cent of people aged 18 years and over were smokers. Of particular concern is the smoking rate among Aboriginal people, which in 2008 was reported to be 45 per cent among people aged 15 years and over – more than double that of the wider community.

Selected statistics from Tobacco in Australia: Facts and Issues include:
  • In 2007, the male smoking rate was 21 per cent and the female smoking rate was 18 per cent (where current smoking included daily and weekly smokers).
  • Male smoking rates were higher in all adult age groups.
  • People aged 25–29 years were more likely to be daily or weekly smokers than all other age groups, with a smoking rate of 28 per cent.
  • People aged 60 years and over were least likely to be smokers (11 per cent).
  • Smoking rates for Australians aged 18 and over have declined by over 40 per cent between 1980 and 2007.
  • Ex-smokers outnumber current smokers: in 2007, just over one quarter (25.1 per cent) of Australians had quit smoking during their lifetime.
  • By 2007, 61 per cent of people who had ever smoked had quit.

Smokers in Victoria


The Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer estimates that in 2010, 15.3 per cent of Victorian adults aged 18 and over smoked regularly.
  • The smoking rate for men (17.9 per cent) was higher than for women (12.8 per cent).
  • Former smokers greatly outnumbered current smokers – 30.6 per cent of men and 25.3 per cent of women have quit smoking in Victoria.
  • Smoking rates were higher among people with lower education – 19.1 per cent of persons who had completed year 12 or lower smoked, compared to 12.1 per cent of people with a tertiary education.
The 2008 Victorian Secondary School Students Survey estimated that 6 per cent of male and 7 per cent of female 12–15 year old students were current smokers. Among 16–17 year old students, 12 per cent of males and 15 per cent of females had smoked in the week before the survey. Alarmingly, research also indicates that the average age of adolescents taking up smoking is around 16 years old.

Comparative death rates for smokers


Smoking kills more Victorians every year than road accidents, alcohol and other drugs combined. Deaths due to tobacco use account for 89 per cent of all drug-caused deaths and around 11 per cent of deaths from all causes.

Death rates from tobacco-caused disease are higher among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and they are more likely to die from these diseases at a younger age.

The benefits of quitting smoking


Quitting smoking has immediate health benefits and dramatically reduces the risk of smoking-related diseases, whatever the person’s age. Statistics include:
  • Quitting before middle age reduces the risk of lung cancer by 90 per cent.
  • After 15 years of being a non-smoker, the risk of stroke is reduced to that of a person who has never smoked.
  • Within two to five years of quitting, there is a large drop in your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Where to get help

  • Your doctor
  • Your pharmacist
  • Quitline Tel. 13 QUIT (7848)

Things to remember

  • In 2004–05, 14,900 Australians died from smoking-related disease, which means there were 40 preventable deaths every day.
  • Cancer is the number one cause of smoking-related death in men (57 per cent) and women (51 per cent).
  • Quitting smoking reduces the risk of smoking-related diseases in people of all ages.

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Fact sheet currently being reviewed.
Last reviewed: June 2012

Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. Content has been prepared for Victorian residents and wider Australian audiences, and was accurate at the time of publication. Readers should note that, over time, currency and completeness of the information may change. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.


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Smoking-related diseases killed 14,900 Australians in 2004-05. This means there were 40 preventable deaths every day. Major tobacco-related diseases include cancer, heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Smoking kills more men than women, and smoking rates are higher among younger age groups and people with a lower level of education.



Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your qualified health professional. Content has been prepared for Victorian residence and wider Australian audiences, and was accurate at the time of publication. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users are urged to always seek advice from a qualified health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

For the latest updates and more information, visit www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au

Copyight © 1999/2014  State of Victoria. Reproduced from the Better Health Channel (www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au) at no cost with permission of the Victorian Minister for Health. Unauthorised reproduction and other uses comprised in the copyright are prohibited without permission.

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