Smoking in Australia

Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable disease and early death in Australia

Tobacco use in Australia

Even with declining smoking rates over the last half century, tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable disease and early death in Australia. The numbers are staggering; smoking is responsible for killing two-thirds of regular consumers and is responsible for the majority of all drug-caused deaths (90%). Smoking-related diseases kill more than 20,000 people every year. That kind of thing for any other product would usually mean a massive product recall!

The cost of a killer

  • The social costs of tobacco to the Australian community is now estimated to be around $137 billion annually.
  • Over 750,000 days spent in hospital and $670 million in hospital costs (2004-2005).

The wider community

There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke; even breathing a little can be harmful. Secondhand smoke exposure can increase a person’s risk of developing a wide range of serious diseases and illnesses. It is estimated that more than 600,000 people worldwide die every year as a result of exposure to secondhand smoke.

Despite a significant decline in prevalence over the last few decades approximately 2.5 million Australians continue to smoke daily.

Higher smoking rates are reported among priority populations in our community including Indigenous Australians, prison populations, people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, people experiencing mental illness, pregnant women, single parents, and people living in regional, rural and remote areas of Australia, as well as many others. For more information on the above at-risk population groups, please refer to our Who we help’ section.

Making a tobacco free future a reality

Read more about the history and future of tobacco control in Australia, focusing on Western Australia at:

and in publications:

The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) collects information on alcohol and tobacco consumption, and illicit drug use among the general population in Australia. It also surveys people’s attitudes and perceptions relating to tobacco, alcohol and other drug use. Survey findings relate mainly to people aged 14 years or older. The key findings from the NDSHS 2019 can be found here