Australia: Significant decline in youth smoking

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Figures released today show that smoking rates among secondary school students in Australia have fallen to the lowest level since surveys began more than 30 years ago. In 2014, 5% per cent of 12- to 17-year olds were current smokers compared to 7% in 2011 and 2008. Among 12-year olds, 94% had no experience of smoking, compared to 78% of 15-year olds and 61% of 17-year olds. [1] The national study is conducted every 3 years.

This is comparable to a similar fall in smoking in England where regular smoking is now down to 3% among 11-15 year olds. [2]

The principal researcher, Associate Professor Vicki White, noted that the decrease in smoking prevalence among 12-to 15 year olds in Australia continued the decline recorded between 2008 and 2011 suggesting that “children growing into adolescence from 1999 onwards have overwhelmingly rejected experimenting and subsequently taking up smoking.” [3]

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of health charity ASH said:

“These results are very encouraging and show the importance of a comprehensive approach to tackling smoking. The fall in adolescent smoking occurred during a time when the Australian government implemented a well-funded anti-smoking strategy including substantial mass media campaigns.

“If smoking rates are to continue to fall among young people in England the government must commit to sustained funding of a new comprehensive tobacco strategy at national, regional and local level.”


Notes and Links:

[1] Australian Secondary Students’ Alcohol and Drug Survey.   More than 23,000 students aged 12 to 17 years old took part in the survey. The survey is a collaboration between cancer councils in several states and the Australian Government Department of Health.

[2] ‘Smoking, drinking & drug use among young people in England’ 2014. HSCIC, 2015
[3] National survey release: tobacco use by Australian secondary school students declines, Cancer Council of Victoria media release. 24 November 2015