A study released today has found that three-quarters of Victoria's estimated 740,000 smokers have tried to break the habit, while 30 per cent say they intend to quit in the next three months.
And the good news for those who are thinking of quitting is that 97% of former smokers said they were not likely to be smoking in 12 months. Even more encouraging, 75% of smokers who have quit say they never feel the urge to smoke, with 77% saying they do not miss smoking at all.
The Quit Evaluation Studies Volume 10 has also found that Victorians are taking advantage of pharmaceutical aids such as nicotine gums, inhalers and patches in their efforts to quit.
The new study, conducted by the Anti-Cancer Council's Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, is based on in-depth interviews conducted in 1998 and 1999 with a representative sample of 2000 Victorians aged 18 and over on their smoking habits, quitting attempts, and knowledge of the health effects of smoking.
The latest picture of the smoking habits of Victorians revealed in the study shows:
- 20.7% of Victorians in 1999 were regular smokers slightly lower than the national rate of almost 22%;
- 23% of Victorian men and 18% of women are regular smokers;
- 50% of Victorians have never smoked, and former smokers outnumber current smokers;
- smoking rates are highest amongst those aged 18-29, with almost a third of Victorians in this age group smoking, but this group also smokes less on a daily basis, smoking an average of 13 cigarettes a day compared to 18 for smokers over 30;
- dropping out of school appears to increase the likelihood of taking up smoking, with figures showing 46% of those aged 18-29 with Year 11 or lower smoke, compared to 20% of those with tertiary education in this age group;
- smoking rates are lowest for the over 50 age bracket; only 14% of those in this age group smoke, compared to 20% for the general population;
- Over a fifth of smokers had used nicotine replacement therapy in their attempt to quit. Of smokers who have used nicotine replacement therapy, two thirds use it to quit, with 17% using the quitting aids to cut back, and 7% using patches and gum to get through in situations when they can't smoke.
The study found no major differences in smoking rates between metropolitan and regional areas of Victoria.
Younger smokers are more likely to intend to quit, with almost a quarter of 18-29 year old smokers intending to quit in the next month. The study also found one in five smokers have tried to quit at least 5 times.
Director of the Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, Professor David Hill, says the study's findings support a continuing focus on encouraging adult smokers to quit.
'Not surprisingly, this study has found that smoking rates amongst young adults aged 18-29 are much higher than for the older adult population.
'However, this finding supports the need to continue to focus Quit advertising campaigns at adult smokers.
'Helping more adult smokers quit reduces smoking related death and disease almost immediately.
'Also, there is a strong association between parents smoking and their children taken up smoking, so encouraging more adults to stop smoking should not only improve their own health, but also have a flow on effect in reducing the likelihood of their children starting smoking.
Media Communications Manager