Tasmanian Smoking Rates

Tasmanian Smoking Rates [1]
Despite Tasmania leading the way on public health initiatives in tobacco control, the results of the National Health Survey 2014-15 indicate that Tasmania continues to have the second highest smoking rate in the nation, after the Northern Territory. Tasmania’s current smoking rate is 18.9% compared to a national current smoking rate of 16.0%.

Priority at risk populations [1] [2]
Within the Tasmanian population there are groups of individuals with significantly higher smoking rates than the general population. Current smoking rates are especially high for males aged 35 to 44 with a rate of 35.7%.

The proportion of Tasmanian women who smoked during their pregnancy has markedly improved between 2010 and 2014, and is statistically significant. In 2010 the overall rate was 23% and in 2014, the rate was 14.3%. Tasmania had the second highest proportion of women who smoked during pregnancy among all states and territories in 2014.

Maternal smoking continues to be more prevalent among younger women in Tasmania. For those aged under 20 years, 34.9% smoked during pregnancy. For those aged 20-24, the rate was 24% in 2014.


Australian Secondary Students’ Alcohol and Drug Survey 2014 (ASSAD) and adolescent smoking [3]

The ASSAD survey of Tasmanian secondary students found that smoking rates in the previous 12 months significantly decreased among 16-17 year olds from 39% in the 2008 survey to 31% in the 2014 survey.

The majority of students (90%) aged 12 to 17 considered themselves to be non-smokers, with 93% stating that they did not expect to be smoking cigarettes in one year’s time.

In 2014, awareness of illnesses or harm caused by smoking was generally high among 12 to 17 year-old students. For example:

  • 96% agreed that smoking causes lung cancer
  • 93% agreed that smoking harms unborn babies
  • 87% agreed that smoking causes mouth cancer

However, awareness was lower on the following aspects:

  • Smoking causes sexual dysfunction in men (51%)
  • Smoking causes blindness (45%)
  • Smoking causes infertility in men and women (50%)

The results of this survey indicate that attitudes to smoking are changing among this age group with smoking no longer a normative behaviour among secondary students in Tasmania.


Figure 1: ASSAD Survey Smoking Prevalence Tasmanian Students, 12-17 year-olds, 1984-2014

Adolescent smoking rates


What smoking costs

  • About half of all long term smokers die as a direct result of a smoking related disease [4][5]
  • Modelling suggests that 425 Tasmanians die each year (2013-14) due to smoking [6].
  • The tangible costs of smoking to the Tasmanian economy have been estimated at $465.8 million annually [7]
  • In addition, intangible costs of smoking have been calculated at $696.4 million to the Tasmanian economy [8].
  • In 2004-05 Australia spent around $1.836 billion on tobacco related health care [9].
  • Smoking rates are higher among the most disadvantaged (people facing combinations of multiple issues such as low income, limited education, unemployment or sole parenthood) and therefore many of the personal costs are borne by the most disadvantaged [10].
  • In 2004-05, the total net tangible and intangible social costs of tobacco use in Australia were $31.5 billion [11].
  • Smoking is responsible for over 1 in 8 of all cancers in Australia [12].
  • Tobacco smoking is strongly associated with low socio-economic status, and it is well established that people with lower incomes and/or lower levels of completed education are more likely to smoke [13].


[1] Australian Bureau of Statistics, National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15 data cubes; viewed 2 Nov 2016 and available at: <http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/4364.0.55.0012014-15?OpenDocument>

[2] Tasmanian Government Department of Health & human Services, Epidemiology Unit, Smoking and Pregnancy in Tasmania 2014, Hobart, August 2016; viewed 8 Nov 2016 and available at: <www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/publichealth/publications/epidemiology_publications>

[3] Williams, T & Scalzo, K. (2016) The use of alcohol, tobacco, over-the-counter substances and illicit substances, among Tasmanian secondary school students in 2014 and trends over time. Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, Cancer Council Victoria.

[4] World Health Organization. Tobacco Fact sheet N°339. Updated June 2016. Viewed 2 Nov 2016 and available at: <http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs339/en/>

[5] Cancer Research UK, Smoking facts and evidence. Viewed 2 Nov 2016 and available at: <http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/causes-of-cancer/smoking-and-cancer/smoking-facts-and-evidence#smoking_facts0>

[6] Peter Bennett Consulting, An analysis of the economic and social costs of smoking in Tasmania 2013-14, Appendix A, November 2015

[7] ibid.

[8] ibid.

[9] Scollo, MM and Winstanley, MH. Tobacco in Australia: Facts and issues. Chapter 17.2 The costs of smoking. Melbourne: Cancer Council Victoria; 2016. Available from www.TobaccoInAustralia.org.au

[10] Australian National Preventative Health Agency & Cancer Council Victoria, 2013. Smoking and Disadvantage Evidence Brief. Canberra: Australian National Preventive Health Agency. Viewed on 16 Nov 2016 and available at: <www.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/smoking-disadvantage-evidence-brief>

[11] Collins D and Lapsley H; 2008. The costs of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug abuse to Australian society in 2004-5. Canberra: Department of Health and Ageing. Available at: <www.health.gov.au/internet/drugstrategy/publishing.nsf/Content/34F55AF632F67B70CA2573F60005D42B/$File/mono64.pdf>

[12] Pandeya N, et al; 2015. Cancers in Australia in 2010 attributable to tobacco smoke. Aust NZ J Public Health; Vol39 No.5:464-70

[13] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2015. Tobacco Indicators Baseline Data: Reporting under the National Tobacco Strategy 2012–2018. Drug statistics series no. 29. Cat. no. PHE 189. Canberra: AIHW.