From National Cancer Control Policy
Tobacco control > Overview

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Tobacco smoking is the leading preventable cause of cancer burden in Australia, attributable for an estimated 11,308 new cases of cancer and 8,155 cancer deaths in 2005[1]. A more recent study estimated 15,525 (13%) cancers in Australia in 2010 were attributable to tobacco smoke[2]. Smoking causes an estimated 22% of the nation’s cancer disease burden each year[3]. Two of every three deaths in current smokers can be directly attributed to smoking[4].

There is a link between tobacco and 16 different cancer types and a wide range of further conditions. However, lung cancer is the predominant cause of tobacco-related disease and accounts for more than a third (35%) of the tobacco-related burden of disease in Australia[5].

In 2011-12, there were 2.8 million Australians (16.3%) aged 18 years and over who smoked daily[6]. In 2013, 12.8% of Australians aged 14 years or older smoked daily[7].

Smoking rates in Australia have declined substantially in recent decades. In 1945, 72% of Australian males and 26% of Australian females smoked[8][9]. By 1991, the proportion of Australians smoking daily was 24.3; this declined further to 12.8% in 2013[7].

Effective tobacco control policies have led to these decreases in smoking rates in Australia, and consequent reductions in tobacco-related mortality rates[1][10][11].

This chapter focuses on the impact of smoking, it's link to cancer, the policy context and the interventions required to further reduce the population health harms of tobacco use in Australia. It also outlines Cancer Council Australia's policy priorities for reducing the tobacco-related cancer burden in Australia.

For further information on the major issues in smoking and health in Australia, see Tobacco facts and issues, produced by Cancer Council Victoria.

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  1. 1.0 1.1 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australasian Association of Cancer Registries. Cancer in Australia: an overview, 2008. Canberra: AIHW; 2008. Report No.: Cancer series no. 46. Cat. no. CAN 42..
  2. Pandeya N, Wilson LF, Bain CJ, Martin KL, Webb PM, Whiteman DC. Cancers in Australia in 2010 attributable to tobacco smoke. Aust N Z J Public Health 2015 Oct;39(5):464-70 Abstract available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26437733.
  3. AIHW. Australian Burden of Disease Study: impact and causes of illness and death in Australia 2011. Canberra: AIHW; 2016. Report No.: Australian Burden of Disease Study series no. 3. Cat. no. BOD 4. Available from: http://www.aihw.gov.au/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=60129555476.
  4. Banks E, Joshy G, Weber MF, Liu B, Grenfell R, Egger S, Paige E, Lopez AD, Sitas F and Beral V. Tobacco smoking and all-cause mortality in a large Australian cohort study: findings from a mature epidemic with current low smoking prevalence. BMC Medicine 2019 Apr 24;13:38 Abstract available at http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/13/38.
  5. Begg S, Vos T, Barker B, Stevenson C, Stanley L, Lopez AD. The burden of disease and injury in Australia 2003. Canberra: AIHW; 2007. Report No.: Cat. no. PHE 82. Available from: http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=6442467990.
  6. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Australia heath survey first results 2011-12. Canberra: ABS; 2012. Report No.: Cat no. 4364.0.55.001. Available from: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/4364.0.55.001?OpenDocument.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. National Drug Strategy Household Survey: key findings. Canberra: AIHW; 2014 Jul 17 Available from: http://aihw.gov.au/alcohol-and-other-drugs/ndshs/.
  8. Woodward SD. Trends in cigarette consumption in Australia. Aust N Z J Med 1984 Aug;14(4):405-7 Abstract available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6596048.
  9. Gray NJ, Hill DJ. Patterns of tobacco smoking in Australia. Med J Aust 1975 Nov 29;2(22):819-22 Abstract available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1207580.
  10. Wakefield MA, Durkin S, Spittal MJ, Siahpush M, Scollo M, Simpson JA, et al. Impact of tobacco control policies and mass media campaigns on monthly adult smoking prevalence. Am J Public Health 2008 Aug;98(8):1443-50 Abstract available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18556601.
  11. National Preventative Health Taskforce. Australia: The healthiest country by 2020. Technical report 2 - Tobacco control in Australia: Making smoking history. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia; 2009.