How many people smoke in NSW?

Adult smoking

About 16% of people in NSW (14% of women and 19% of men) are daily or occasional smokers.1 Aboriginal people are about two times as likely to smoke, with almost two-thirds of Aboriginal men and women saying they smoke.2

Youth smoking

About one quarter of NSW school students say they have smoked tobacco at least once, 17% said that they had smoked in the past 12 months and 7% in the last 7 days.3

Smoking among disadvantaged groups

As Illustrated in Figure 1, Smoking rates are much higher among some disadvantaged groups. These high rates of smoking among already disadvantaged and vulnerable groups make smoking an important social justice issue. Smoking damages people’s health, increases their financial stress and erodes their quality of life. See the Tackling Tobacco Program for information about Cancer Council NSW’s smoking and disadvantage strategy.

TCU_smoking prevalence for selected disadvantaged groups



2 Centre for Epidemiology and Evidence, NSW Ministry of Health. NSW Adult Population Health Survey: current smoking by age and sex, persons aged 16 years and over, NSW 2011. Available at:

1 Centre for Epidemiology and Research. The health of Aboriginal people of NSW: report of the Chief Health Officer. Available at :

3 Centre for Epidemiology and Research. New South Wales School Students Health Behaviours Survey: 2008 Report. Sydeny: NSW Department of Health, 2009. Available at:

4 Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2012). Australian Health Survey: First results, 2011-12. Cat. no. 4364.0.55.001. Available at: 

5 Siahpush, M., Borland, R., & Scollo, M. (2002). Prevalence and socioeconomic correlates of smoking among lone mothers in Australia. Aust N Z J Public Health, 26, 132-5.

6 Lawrence, D. Mitrou, F. Zubrick, S. (2009). Smoking and mental illness: results from population surveys in Australia and the United States. BMC Public Health, 9:285.

7 Youthblock Health and Resource Service. Smoking survey 2007. Sydney: YHRS; 2010.

Kermode, M. Crofts, N. Miller, P. Speed, B. Streeton, J. (2008). Health indicators and risks among people experiencing homlessness in Melbourne, 1995-1996. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 22(4):464-470.

9 Indig, D. Topp, L. Ross, B. Marmoon, H. Kumar, S. McNamara, M. (2010). 2009 NSW Inmate Health Survey: Key findings report. Justice Health. Sydney. Available at:

10 Phillips, B. Burns, L. (2012) New South Wales Drug Trends 2011: Findings from the Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS). Australia Drug Trends Series No. 74. Sydney, National Drug And Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales.