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Fewer Aussies smoke but more try e-cigs
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Fewer Aussies smoke but more try e-cigs

Media release - 16 July 2020

People are older when they try their first cigarette, more people have never smoked, and Australia has seen a decrease of about 100,000 daily smokers over the three years from 2016 to 2019.

But, according to a report released today by The Australian Institute of Health & Welfare (AIHW), nearly a third of current smokers don’t plan on quitting, and the number of young people using e-cigarettes has quadrupled in six years.

Key points

  • Fewer people are smoking: 11% compared with 12.2% in 2016 and 24% in 1991.
  • More people are trying to quit: 2 in 10 (21%) were able to quit for more than a month in 2019 (up from 17.2% in 2016).
  • Fewer children exposed to daily tobacco smoke inside the home: declining from 19.7% in 2001 to just 2.1% in 2019.
  • More young people who don’t smoke are using e-cigarettes: 1 in 5 (20%) non-smokers aged 18-24 years reported using e-cigarettes – quadrupling in 6 years from 2013-2019 (5% vs 20%). And 65% of adolescents and 39% of young adults reported using e-cigarettes despite having never smoked.
  • More people are trying e-cigarettes: use of e-cigarettes rose from 8.8% in 2016 to 11.3% in 2019.
  • Nearly a third won’t quit: 3 in 10 (30%) smokers say they don’t plan on quitting.

“Since 1991, the number of daily smokers has more than halved and the number of people never taking up smoking has increased by 29 per cent. Pleasingly the number of children being exposed to daily tobacco smoke at home has fallen nine-fold in the last 20 years,” says Heart Foundation Director of Health Strategy, Julie Anne Mitchell.

“But tobacco still contributes to more drug-related deaths in Australia than alcohol and illicit drug use combined. It is our leading cause of preventable disease and death.”

Ms Mitchell said smokers are three times more likely to suffer sudden cardiac death than non-smokers: “Even smoking between one and four cigarettes a day dramatically increases the risk of dying from heart disease.

“We’re concerned that the use of e-cigarettes has increased among young people who have never smoked, and there’s been a significant increase in the number of young people smoking e-cigarettes more often.
There is no safe level of smoking – nor is there a safe method. The best thing you can do for your heart is to never start and avoid second-hand smoke. For those who smoke, remember that with help and support, you can quit, and you will feel the health benefits in a surprisingly short space of time.
“People thinking about quitting smoking should speak with their doctor or call Quitline on 13 78 48.”

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