Smoking prevalence and consumption in Victoria: key findings from the 1998–2008 population surveys

By Molly McCarthy, Jacenta Abbott, Sarah Durkin, Melanie Wakefield, Daniella Germain

CBRC Research Paper Series No. 39    


Since 1998 there has been a significant decline in regular smoking prevalence among Victorian adults, reaching 16.5% regular smoking prevalence in 2008, a relative decline of 21.8%.  Regular smoking declined at a similar rate over this period for both males and females, though males were more likely than females to be regular smokers in 2008 (18.4%, males; 14.7%, females). 

In 2008, older Victorians (aged 50 years or more) were less likely to be regular smokers (11.1%) than were younger Victorians aged 18-29 years (22.3%) and those aged 30-49 years (18.8%).  Smoking rates amongst those aged 18-29 years and 30-49 years have declined between 1998 and 2007, while there was a trend toward a decline in smoking rates among Victorians aged 50 years or more over this period.

In 2008, regular smoking prevalence was significantly lower among those with post Year 12 education (12.9%), compared with those who had a Year 12 or less education (20.4%).  Between 1998 and 2008 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 11.3%, compared with those in mid and low socio-economic areas (16.8% and 20.2% respectively).  Smoking significantly declined between the period 1998 to 2008 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 11 years, in concert with a range of significant tobacco control legislative and policy interventions. While smoking rates remain highest amongst young people, those from the most socio-economically disadvantaged groups and those with lower education levels, regular smoking prevalence has declined over the past 11 years in these groups.