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New figures show smoking rates in Victoria continue to fall


The number of Victorians who smoke has almost halved over the last twenty years, according to research released by The Cancer Council Victoria today.

The findings, released today at the launch of a campaign marking the 20th Anniversary of Quit Victoria, show that less than one in five Victorian adults are regular smokers. In 1985, when Quit Victoria began, just under a third of Victorian adults were regular smokers.

Cancer Council Director Professor David Hill said the latest results indicated that since 1985, tobacco control measures adopted in Victoria have been successful in supporting men and women across all age groups in their attempts to quit smoking.

""Smoking rates for Victorian men are less than half of what they were twenty years ago and smoking rates in women have also declined steadily since 1985.""

“This has been mirrored in the smoking rates of Victorians aged 18-29, which have gone down by almost half in the past two decades.”

However latest figures show smoking rates remain highest amongst among Victorians under 30, where 23.4% are regular smokers, compared to 19.8% of Victorians aged 30-49 and 9% of Victorians aged over 50.

Professor Hill said 16.6% of Victorian adults were smokers according to the 2003 survey, however he urged caution in interpreting this data.

“It is important to focus on longer term trends than year to year data which fluctuate around this trend, however these latest figures show we can be confident that smoking levels are declining. .”

Professor Hill also highlighted the significant fall in the last twenty years in smoking rates among Victorians with Year 11 or less education.

“Victorians in this group still have a higher smoking rate (21%) than those who have completed Year 12 (18.7%) or completed tertiary study (11.8%).”

“However the number of regular smokers with Year 11 or less has dropped by over 10% in the last twenty years, indicating real inroads have been made in this particular area to help these smokers quit.”

According to Professor Hill the latest figures were evidence of the effectiveness of the partnership of organisations like Quit Victoria, The Heart Foundation, VicHealth and The Cancer Council Victoria along with successive Victorian Governments, in not only encouraging people to quit smoking, but also discouraging them from starting smoking in the first place.

“Since Quit Victoria began there has been an undeniable downward shift in the smoking rates in Victorian adults.”

“In the years following 1985 we have seen bans of cigarette advertising, bans on smoking in restaurants, increases in cigarette prices, the implementation of more detailed pack warning and a raft of successful advertising campaigns spear-headed by Quit Victoria.”

“There is no doubt that all of these have been contributing factors in the continuing decrease in the number of adult Victorians smoking.”

Professor Hill said there had also been a change in where people smoke, pointing out the regular smokers are now more likely to smoke outdoors and away from children.

Research has indicated a rapid increase in the number of regular smokers who do not smoke around children, from approximately 13% in 1989 to 42% in 2003 and a increase in the percentage of regular smokers who always or usually smoke outside.

Other findings from research released today include:

  • 16.6% of Victorians adults surveyed are regular smokers
  • Smoking rates are not significantly different between males (17.4%) and females (15.8%)
  • Smoking rates are highest amongst young people; 23.4% of 18-29 year olds are regular smokers, compared to almost 20% of Victorians aged 30-49 and just below 10% of Victorians aged over 50.
  • Over half of Victorians surveyed (53.2%) have never smoked
  • 29.2% of Victorians surveyed are former smokers


Further information:

Edwina Vellar,
Media Manager
ph: (03) 9635 5400
mob: 0417 303 811

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