Research released today shows that almost two-thirds of Victorians think that smoking is far more common in the community than it really is.
The data, from The Cancer Council of Victoria, shows 61% of people surveyed substantially overestimated the actual regular smoking rate, which in 2005 was 18.5%.
Only 5% of respondents made an estimate that fell within the correct range.
Executive Director of Quit Victoria, Mr Todd Harper, said the figures show us that there is still a proportion of people that believe smoking is regular, everyday type behaviour.
"If people mistakenly believe smoking is a normal behaviour this might undermine the serious health consequences of smoking and lead some to think it is a relatively harmless habit."
Mr Harper said young people were significantly more likely to perceive smoking rates to be substantially higher than what they actually are.
At least three-quarters of both 18 - 24 year olds and 25 - 29 year olds overestimated smoking prevalence in Victoria.
"Young people represent the lifeblood of the tobacco industry. If young people think smoking is common amongst their peers they are less likely to understand the health risks of smoking, and more likely to be influenced by a marketing savvy tobacco industry."
"It is critical that we de-normalise smoking for this particularly vulnerable group," said Mr Harper.
Mr Harper said as smokefree areas continue to increase the perception that more people smoke should decrease.
"By minimising the exposure of younger people to social situations where smoking occurs, we can dismantle the myth that smoking is a normal behaviour."
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