Never room for complacency on smoking


The Australian Council on Smoking and Health has today welcomed a snapshot of the rates of smoking in Australia in 2020-21 released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Only 1 in 10 adults were recorded as daily smokers and only 8.3% of adults aged 18-24 years smoked daily.

“Most importantly, only 2% of 15 to 17-year-olds reported that they were current smokers, demonstrating the success of Australia’s efforts to denormalise smoking,” said Maurice Swanson, Chief Executive of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health.

“However, there is no room for complacency. Australia needs to put in place a comprehensive approach to further reduce smoking and phase out the commercial sale of cigarettes by 2030.

“New strategies should include:

  • Reintroduction of Australia’s national media campaigns on tobacco that have been shelved for nearly a decade
  • New and stronger legislation to control the contents and design of all addictive tobacco products
  • New legislation under which anyone born after 2008 will never be legally able to purchase tobacco
  • Banning all remaining tobacco industry marketing and political donations
  • Reducing the number of tobacco retail outlets
  • Major new programs for priority groups
  • Adequate cessation support for all smokers
  • Holding the tobacco industry accountable for healthcare costs

“Australia was previously recognised as a leader in tobacco control but New Zealand’s recent announcement of its Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan has knocked us off our pedestal.

“Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has stood up to the tobacco industry and their funded front groups by requiring e-cigarettes to be only available through a doctor’s prescription for smoking cessation, if appropriate.

“The release of Australia’s National Preventive Health Strategy next week provides an opportunity for setting more ambitious goals including phasing out the commercial sale of tobacco by 2030,” said Mr Swanson.


The Australian Council on Smoking and Health (ACOSH) is an independent, non-government, not for profit coalition established in 1971, and represents a further 35 prominent health and community organisations with a shared concern about smoking and its harmful consequences.

ACOSH has been a leading advocate for all the regulatory and legislative changes to reduce the impact of smoking on the Australian community, and proudly supported by the Western Australian Health Promotion Foundation – Healthway.

Who was smoking in Australia in 2020-21?

  • One in ten adults were current daily smokers (10.7% or 2.1 million adults)
  • One in twelve (8.3%) adults aged 18-24 years smoked daily – this increased with age until 55-64 years where the rate peaked at 13.7% before dropping to 3.4% at age 75 years and over
  • Men were more likely than women to smoke daily (12.6% compared to 8.8%)
  • The majority (98.0%) of 15-17 year olds reported that they were current non-smokers.