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Smoking in multicultural communities

In 2020, over one quarter (30%) of Australian residents were born overseas,(1) and in 2016, 21% of Australians spoke a language other than English at home.(2)

There is considerable variation in prevalence of smoking among individuals born in different countries who have migrated to Australia. Table 1 indicates that between January 2010 and January 2017, migrants from China, Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand had the highest prevalence of regular smoking. It should be noted that in some of the regions listed, smoking is predominantly a male behaviour. Likewise, possible age differentials in smoking prevalence are not explored.

For example, studies have shown that in the Arabic-speaking population in Sydney, more than 50% of both males and females smoke, that among the Sydney-based Lebanese community, about 49% of males and 29% of females are smokers, and that male members of the Vietnamese community in Sydney have smoking rates of 53%.

Although adult prevalence of smoking is higher in some groups with a non-English speaking background, studies from New South Wales have consistently shown that children within these families have a lower prevalence of smoking than their counterparts from English-speaking homes.


(1) Australian Bureau of Statistics. 30% of Australia's Population Born Overseas [internet]. Canberra: ABS; 2021. Available from:

(2) Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2016 Census: Multicultural [internet]. Canberra: ABS; 2017. Available from:

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