Smoking prevalence and consumption in Victoria: key findings from the 1998–2007 population surveys

Germain D, Wakefield M, Durkin S.

CBRC Research Paper Series No. 31

Since 1998, there has been a significant overall linear decline in regular smoking prevalence across the years, decreasing to 17.3% in 2007.  Regular smoking declined at a similar rate over this time for both males and females, with no significant difference in smoking rates between the sexes in 2007 (18.6%, males; 16.1%, females). 

In 2007, older Victorians (aged 50 years or more) were less likely to be regular smokers (11.9%) than were younger Victorians aged 18-29 years (18.6%) and those aged 30-49 years (21.8%). Trends indicate that smoking rates among younger (aged 18-29 years) Victorians have declined between 1998 and 2007, while over this period there was a trend toward a decline in smoking rates among Victorians aged 30-49 years and 50 years or more.

In 2007, regular smoking prevalence was significantly lower among those with a tertiary qualification (12.3%), compared with those who had a Year 12/part tertiary education (18.6%), and those who had completed their education up to Year 11 or less (23.9%).  Between 1998 and 2007 there was a significant decline in regular smoking among those with a Year 12/part tertiary education. However, smoking among the lower and higher education groups remained relatively unchanged over this time.

Regular smoking rates were lowest among those Victorians living in high socio-economic areas (SEIFA 4) at 11.3%, compared with lower socio-economic areas (SEIFA 1, 23.7%; SEIFA 2, 23.5%; and SEIFA 3, 19.7%).  Smoking significantly declined in the period 1998 to 2007 for the highest socio-economic group, while there was a trend toward a significant decline in smoking over this time among those in the lower socio-economic groups combined (SEIFA 1-3).

Overall, the past decade has seen a significant decline in regular smoking prevalence since 1998.  While those most likely to smoke continue to be younger, have a lower level of education and lower SES, trends indicate smoking prevalence among these Victorians have also declined over the years.