Objectives: To estimate the prevalence of smoking among Australian men and women in 1995 and to examine trends in smoking prevalence in Australia over the past 10 years.
Design: A representative sample of adults participated in face-to-face interviews conducted by a large market research company.
Participants: 2819 men and 2880 women over the age of 16.
Main outcome measure: Self-reported smoking behaviours assessed by standard questions.
Results: Overall, 27.1% of men and 23.2% of women were smokers of tobacco (factory-made cigarettes, pipes, cigars or roll-your-own cigarettes). This difference in smoking prevalence of men and women was significant. More men (32.1%) than women (21.7%) were past smokers and more women (53.4%) than men (39.3%) had never been regular smokers. On average, male smokers smoked about 20 factory-made cigarettes a day, while women smoked about 18. Occupation and education levels were inversely related to smoking prevalence. Comparisons with earlier data suggest that the decline in smoking prevalence seen in previous surveys has ceased. However, the number of cigarettes consumed daily decreased between 1992 and 1995. In the period between 1983 and 1989, when per capita expenditure on adult antismoking campaigns rose, smoking prevalence declined, but levelled off thereafter in a period when expenditure on campaigns fell.
Conclusion: Failure to find a continuing decline in prevalence of smoking among the Australian population is of great concern and indicates the importance of continuing and extending antismoking programs.