Smoking by adolescents: large revenue but little for prevention

Aust J Public Health. 1995 Feb;19(1):29-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-6405.1995.tb00293.x.


The purpose of this paper is to report on the government revenue gained from the sale of cigarettes to minors and the proportion of this revenue that is spent on attempting to prevent adolescents from taking up this habit. Prevalence of smoking by minors was extrapolated for the individual states using Australian prevalence data; estimates of annual cigarette consumption were coupled with the respective cost of cigarettes in each state to derive an estimate of the total revenue accumulating from cigarette consumption by minors. From our analysis, approximately 211,000 Australian children under the legal age to purchase cigarettes consumed approximately 11.5 million packets of cigarettes in 1990. The estimated tax revenues to the federal and state governments from these sales were $8.42 million and $12.78 million respectively. While the average state revenue from cigarette consumption by minors during 1990 was just over $60 per under-age smoker, only $0.11 per under-age smoker was spent on anti-smoking campaigns in 1990. This is equivalent to approximately 0.002 per cent of state revenue from cigarette smoking by those under the legal purchase age being spent on discouraging adolescents from taking up this habit. Clearly, there is an inequitable expenditure on antismoking activities, given the enormous resources obtained from sales to minors.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Education / economics*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • New South Wales / epidemiology
  • Smoking / economics
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking Prevention*
  • Taxes*