Australians are lighting up in fewer numbers than ever before, and tobacco use is continuing to decline, a new report into cigarette smoking has revealed.
Researchers from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) compiled a report into smoking patterns, finding less than 13 per cent of Australians are daily smokers.
Overall, the report found improvement in a majority of indicators used to measure smoking rates under a strategy to reduce tobacco usage.
“The most pleasing result probably is the fact that 11 of the 14 indicators are moving in what we’d look at as a positive direction,” AIHW spokesman Tim Beard said.
“Regular smoking rates have continued to come down under the past three years, so we’ve found that … the daily smoking rate is down to an all-time low of [under] 13 per cent. That’s one of the lowest smoking rates in the world.
“It’s come down by a good 3 percentage points [since 2010].”
Mr Beard said smoking rates had rapidly dropped over the past two decades.
“Even 15, 20 years ago it’s almost halved. It was 21, 22 per cent … so the rates are just continuing to drop quite dramatically and that’s a very large drop compared to some of the international rates you look at,” he said.
Fewer young people trying cigarettes
The report also said fewer high school students were experimenting with cigarettes.
“We’ve also found that in general terms … when you look at school students and young adults taking up smoking, they’re not only taking up at a much lower rate, but they’re also taking it up later,” Mr Beard said.
“When you put those two things together, it’s a very powerful story about the fact that the smoking rates are coming down with those factors working in combination.”
However the report noted that some population groups were improving more slowly than others.
Indigenous Australians and people living in remote areas reported improvements, but they were less dramatic than people living in major cities.
Mr Beard said it was difficult to determine the cause of the improvements, but listed increasing costs, plain packaging, and more restrictive laws about where smokers can light up as contributing factors.
“The increased excise on smoking has been a strong policy of multiple governments … the rising excise over the past few years has certainly been coupled in a lot of research with dramatic drops in smoking rates,” he said.