Smoking prevalence & consumption in Victoria – 1998 to 2011

By Monique Alexander, Linda Hayes, Sarah Durkin

CBRC Research Paper Series No. 44


For the first time, the 2011 Prevalence and Consumption reports presents estimates of smoking prevalence based on interviews conducted with a dual frame sample (incorporating samples generated by Random Digit Dialling to both landline and mobile phones). Prevalence estimates of regular and daily smoking obtained for the complete dual frame sample (15.1% and 13%) were very similar to those obtained from the RRD landline sample (14.4% and 12.8%), suggesting that the annual survey has provided a relatively accurate picture of Victorian smoking behaviours in recent years, despite the concurrent increase in mobile phone use.

Since the telephone survey first began in 1998, there has been a significant linear decline in the prevalence of regular smoking among Victorian adults. Significant reductions in the average number of cigarettes smoked each day by daily and regular smokers have also been observed across this period.

In 2011, males were more likely than females to be regular smokers (16.9%, males; 13.3%, females), and older Victorians (aged 50 years or more) were less likely to be regular smokers (9.6%) than younger Victorians aged 18 to 29 years (19.3%) and those aged 30 to 49 years (18.4%). Regular smoking prevalence was significantly lower among those with tertiary or higher education (12.7%) compared with those who had a Year 12 or less education (18.1%). Regular smoking rates were also lower among those Victorians living in high socio-economic areas at 11.1%, compared with those in mid and low socio-economic areas (15.6% and 17.5% respectively).

Since 1998, the prevalence of regular smoking has significantly declined for each of the demographic subgroups studied. An accelerated decline in regular smoking prevalence has been observed among adults living in the most disadvantaged areas of the state, and young adults aged 18 to 29 years since 2005. Those changes coincide with increased tobacco control activities across this period.