Smoking prevalence and consumption in Victoria: key findings from the 1998–2003 population surveys

Durkin S, Germain D, Letcher T, Lipscomb J.

CBRC Research Paper Series No. 12

Smoking prevalence and cigarette consumption were calculated from a population survey conducted by telephone among Victorian adults in November 2003 and compared with data from similar surveys conducted annually between 1998 and 2002. In 2003, 16.6% of respondents indicated they smoked regularly, compared with 19.2% in 2002, 20.8% in 2001, 19.7% in 2000, and 21.7% in both 1999 and 1998. This is a significant overall decline in regular smoking prevalence across the years 1998 to 2003. In addition, there was also a trend toward a significant decline in smoking prevalence between 2002 and 2003.

In contrast to the previous year, in 2003, smoking prevalence was not significantly different between males (17.4%) and females (15.8%). Those younger than 50 years had significantly higher smoking rates than older people. Smoking prevalence was significantly lower among those with tertiary education compared with those who had reached Year 12 or completed a trade qualification and those who had completed Year 11 or less.

In 2003, heavy smokers (>25 cigarettes/day) comprised almost one-quarter of daily smokers, medium smokers (15–24 cigarettes/day) around one-third, and light smokers (<15 cigarettes/day) made up 40.7% of daily smokers. There was no significant change in the proportions of heavy, medium and light smokers across the years 1998 to 2003. In 2003, daily smokers reported smoking a mean number of 17.2 cigarettes per day, while daily and weekly smokers combined reported smoking 16.2 cigarettes per day. Mean cigarette consumption did not change significantly over the period 1998–2003.

Overall, the data indicate there has been a reduction in smoking prevalence for Victorian adults across the years 1998 to 2003.