Around the middle of the last century, a clear majority of males aged 16 and over were smokers, compared to about one quarter of females (Table 1.1). In the following decades smoking among men declined, probably in response to the initial publicity regarding the health effects of smoking which first emerged in the 1950s and early 1960s. Women have always had a lower prevalence of smoking than men, but smoking among women continued to increase in the 1970s.
Percentage of Smokers in Australia 1945 – 1976
Year Male Female
1945 72 26
1964 58 28
1969 45 28
1974 45 30
1976 43 33

Smoking in both sexes declined from 1980 to 2007, the most dramatic drop being in males between 1983 and 1986. The decline in smoking has continued.
Percentage of Smokers 1980 – 2007
Year Male Female % total adult population
1980 40 29 34
1983 40 29 34
1986 34 28 31
1989 30 27 28
1992 29 24 26
1995 29 23 26
1998 27 25 26
2001 25 21 23
2004 24 21 22
2007 21 18 19

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