Smoking prevalence & consumption in Victoria: key findings from the 1998-2009 population surveys

By Molly McCarthy, Sarah Durkin, Melanie Wakefield

CBRC Research Paper Series No. 41


Since 1998 there has been a significant decline in regular smoking prevalence among Victorian adults, reaching 16.9% regular smoking prevalence in 2009, a relative decline of 20.3%. The proportion of daily smokers also significantly declined from 19.6% in 1998 to 15.1% in 2009, a relative decline of 23.0%. Regular smoking declined at a similar rate over this period for both males and females, though there was a trend towards males being more likely to be regular smokers than females in 2009 (18.1%, males; 15.7%, females).

In 2009, older Victorians (aged 50 years or more) were less likely to be regular smokers (11.5%) than were younger Victorians aged 18-29 years (21.5%) and those aged 30-49 years (19.7%). Smoking rates amongst those aged 18-29 years and 30-49 years have significantly declined between 1998 and 2009, while there was a trend toward a decline in smoking rates among Victorians aged 50 years or more over this period. In 2009, regular smoking prevalence was significantly lower among those with post Year 12 education (13.1%), compared with those who had a Year 12 or less education (21.6%). Between 1998 and 2009 there was a significant decline in regular smoking prevalence amongst both those with a year 12 or less education and those with post year 12 education. 

Regular smoking rates were lowest among those Victorians living in high socio-economic areas at 11.5%, compared with those in mid and low socio-economic areas (17.1% and 20.6% respectively). Smoking  significantly declined between the period 1998 to 2009 for both the high socio-economic group (quintile 5) and the low socio-economic group (quintiles 1 & 2), while there was a trend toward a significant decline in smoking over this time among those in the mid socio-economic group (quintiles 3 & 4).

Smoking prevalence in Victoria has declined significantly over the past 12 years, in concert with a range of significant tobacco control legislative and policy interventions. The planned introduction of a range of robust tobacco control measures by the federal and state governments over the next 2 years years, including tobacco excise increases, increased exposure to anti-smoking mass media, plain packaging of cigarettes and bans on tobacco point of sale (POS) displays, are likely to further continue the rate of smoking prevalence declines, and ensure that the benefits of reduced tobacco consumption are felt across all communities.