There is evidence that Tasmanian smoking rates have not decreased at the same rate as those in other jurisdictions. Data on smoking rates is available from a number of sources. The most comprehensive data is sourced from studies conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) conducts a National Drug Strategy Household Survey providing national data but the sample size for each jurisdiction is smaller than that used in ABS surveys. Accordingly, AIHW figures provide some indication of trends in smoking rates but are not considered to be conclusive of changes in the rate of smoking in Tasmania.
In the 2011/12, ABS Australian Health Survey data recorded the Tasmanian smoking rate of those aged 18+ at 21.7%. This includes both daily or regular smokers and occasional smokers. In comparison, the previous ABS National Health Survey in 2007 found the smoking rate of those aged 18+ to be 24.9%. The 2011/12 survey also found the smoking rates of males is 25.8% and females 17.9%.
However, the 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey report showed some positive and significant reductions in Tasmanian daily smoking rates of those aged 14+ from 22.6% in 2007 to 15.9% in 2010.
In 2011, the Tasmanian component of the Australian Secondary Schools Alcohol and Drug Survey found 9% of students aged between 12 and 17 years had smoked in the week prior to the survey. Although this is encouraging, it is still important that efforts are maintained to prevent the children of today from becoming the next generation of addicted adult smokers.
According to Tasmanian Perinatal Data Collection (August 2013), the rate of smoking by pregnant women in Tasmania has decreased from 23% in 2010 to 17.1% in 2011. Smoking amongst younger women of child bearing age is a major concern, not only for their own health and wellbeing, but also the impact on fertility rates and on babies and small children exposed to environmental tobacco smoke.
Smoking prevalence amongst Tasmanian Aborigines is consistently higher than amongst the overall Tasmanian population. National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS) 2008 results showed 44.5% of Tasmanian Aborigines aged 15 years or older were current smokers. This suggests a decline in smoking prevalence from the 2004/5 NATSIHS level of 50%.
Tobacco in Australia: Facts and Issues is a comprehensive, regularly updated, review of the major issues in smoking and health in Australia compiled by Cancer Council Victoria.