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Health risk factors


Tobacco smoking is the leading cause of preventable diseases and death in Australia. It increases the risk of developing various chronic health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, cancer and chronic respiratory conditions (AIHW 2019a).

In 2018–19, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 15 and over:

  • 41% (217,200) were current daily or occasional smokers, 22% (118,300) were ex-smokers, and 37% (200,400) had never smoked.
  • 37% (200,400) smoked daily, and 3% (16,700) smoked weekly or less than weekly (Figure HR 1a).
  • Males (39% or 101,100) were slightly more likely to be current daily smokers than females (36% or 99,500) (Figure HR 1a).
  • Current daily smoker rates were lowest in the 15–17 age group (10% or 4,800) and highest in the 35–44 age group (47% or 39,000) (Figure HR 1b).
  • Daily smoking rates were lower among those living in non-remote areas (35% or 150,000), compared to those living in remote areas (49% or 50,400) (Figure HR 1c).

Between 1994 and 2018–19, among Indigenous Australians:

  • The proportion who were current smokers decreased, except among those aged 55 and over.
  • The proportion of current smokers among those aged 15–17 decreased from 30% to 13% (Figure HR 2).

In 2018–19, among Indigenous Australians who were current smokers:

  • 51% (111,600) had attempted to quit smoking in the last 12 months.
  • The 18–24 age group had the highest proportion of smokers (60% or 25,100) who had attempted to quit (Figure HR 3).

In 2018–19, among Indigenous children aged 0–14:

  • 57% (158,300) lived in a household with a daily smoker.
  • A higher proportion of children lived in households with a daily smoker in Very remote areas (75% or 22,100) than in Major cities (48% or 49,200) (Figure HR 4).