New figures show Victoria's smoking rates have stalled

Tuesday 25 March, 2003

The number of Victorians who smoke is not falling, according to latest research released by The Cancer Council Victoria today.

The latest data measuring smoking rates amongst Victorian adults in 2000 and 2001 shows that around one in five Victorian adults are regular smokers, the same as the Cancer Council's last survey in 1998/99. The figures are based on interviews with 4000 Victorian adults. The Cancer Council has conducted annual surveys of smoking rates in Victoria since 1983.

The findings, released today at the launch of a new campaign to encourage Victorian women to quit smoking, also show that smoking rates amongst young adults continue to be a concern.

Cancer Council Director Professor David Hill, said the latest figures show smoking rates are highest amongst Victorians under 30, where 29% are regular smokers, compared to 23% of Victorians aged 30-49.

'However, it is encouraging to see that while this group has the highest smoking rates, a substantial proportion of younger smokers are fairly light smokers. Almost half of men and two thirds of women in this age group smoke up to 10 cigarettes a day.'

Professor Hill said while it was disappointing to see that smoking rates had not fallen, the latest figures do hold some good news.

'It's important to remember that these latest figures will not reflect the impact of much of the Victorian Government’s substantial recent legislative reform in the tobacco area.'

'In addition, the figures do not reflect the Government’s significant recent investment into campaigns to encourage Victorians to quit.'

'Therefore, I would be very hopeful that the next set of figures will show more promising inroads into reducing Victoria’s smoking rates.'

'As we know that effective advertising campaigns are a very important way to encourage smokers to quit, we would hope to see ongoing investment in this area.'

Professor Hill said that while the latest survey found that smoking rates haven’t fallen, they do show Victorian smokers are smoking less, with daily cigarette consumption falling from 20 cigarettes per day to 17.

The latest figures show that Victorian men over 50 are the heaviest smokers, with a third of this group smoking 21 cigarettes or more every day.

Other findings from the research released today include:

  • almost half of Victorians surveyed (47%) had never smoked
  • almost a third of those surveyed (31%) were former smokers
  • smoking rates are highest amongst young adults; almost 30% of 18-29 year olds are regular smokers, compared to about 12% of Victorians aged 50 and over
  • The majority of smokers have tried to kick the habit, with 8 out of 10 saying they have tried to quit at least once, and four out of 10 had tried to quit in the last year.
  • Over a third of smokers (36%) had used nicotine patches or gum when trying to quit
  • Once they have quit, former smokers are confident they will stay off the smokes, with 9 out of 10 former smokers saying they would definitely not be smoking again in a year

ends

Further information:
Zoe Furman
Media Communications Manager