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 5,200 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.
In 2013, around 15 per cent of people aged 18 years and over were smokers. Of particular concern is the smoking rate among Aboriginal people, which in 2012-13 was reported to be 43 per cent among people aged 18 years and over – more than double that of the wider community.
Selected statistics from the 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey
- In 2013, the male smoking rate was 17 per cent and the female smoking rate was 13 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 and 40-49 years had higher smoking rates than other age groups, with a daily smoking rate of 16 per cent in both age groups.
- People aged 70 years and over were least likely to be smokers (6 per cent).
- Daily smoking rates for Australians aged 18 and over have dropped from 19 per cent in 2001 to 13 percent in 2013.
- Ex-smokers outnumber current smokers: in 2013, just over 22 per cent of Australians had quit smoking during their lifetime.
- By 2013, 61 per cent of people who had ever smoked had quit.
Smokers in Victoria
The Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer estimates that in 2012, 13.3 per cent of Victorian adults aged 18 and over smoked regularly. Also:
- The smoking rate for men (16.0 per cent) was higher than for women (11.2 per cent).
- Former smokers greatly outnumbered current smokers – 31.3 per cent of men and 23.7 per cent of women have quit smoking in Victoria.
- Smoking rates were higher among people with lower education – 20 per cent of persons who had completed year 12 or lower smoked, compared to 8.7 per cent of people with a tertiary education.
The 2011 Victorian Secondary School Students Survey estimated that 4 per cent of male and 5 per cent of female 12–15 year old students were current smokers. Among 16–17 year old students, 13 per cent of males and 14 per cent of females had smoked in the week before the survey. Alarmingly, 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 30 years of age reduces your risk of lung cancer by 90 per cent.
- After 15 years of being a non-smoker, your 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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