More and more Australians are quitting smoking

Australian stats on smoking cigarettes (2020-2021).

two teenagers smoking cigarettes

Wow, What a couple of years it has been for, well, pretty much everyone. As Australians we have had a seeming onslaught of stressors starting back at the beginning of 2020 with a difficult and traumatic bush fire season and then ramping up into the Covid-19 pandemic. It would be rational to think that these things and other factors like flooding, climate change and inflation (and a possible recession) may have led to an increase in smoking. But did it? 

Let’s take a look at the current statistics.

In the period 2020-2021, 10.7% of Australians smoke cigarettes on a daily basis. It is most common in the 45-55 age group (13.6%) and dips significantly after that.

Strikingly, this is a big change from the last release by the ABS in 2017-18 which had the daily smoker rate at 14%. This increase in smoking cessation may be due to a number of factors. 

Indeed, for many the risk of covid on top of being a smoker may have been a catalyst to seeking support and quitting. Smoking damages a number of systems in the body and many people fearful of the double risk of smoking and covid took action. Others increased their smoking due to the stress of the pandemic. Smokers had a greater chance of severe covid and also had a greater chance of infection due to the hand-to-mouth action of smoking. ( The risk to health is just one of the reasons more people chose to quit in the period. Economic instability was also a factor given the cost of cigarettes.

What else may have played a role? The increase in vape use is certainly a consideration. E-cigarettes (vapes) have been toted as an alternative to cigarettes. Some people see vaping as a safer alternative to tobacco cigarettes, though the science does not support this. Vaping is most common in our young people. 4.8% of those 18-24 years of age use e-cigarettes daily. For a group that is our lowest tobacco users, this statistic is unfortunate though not surprising to many given how vaping has been advertised and how it is becoming part of the social environment. 

Cigarettes are still killing approximately 50 per day in Australia. Below are up-to-date stats on how quitting today improves your health from


Quitting smoking has immediate health benefits and dramatically reduces the risk of smoking-related diseases, whatever the person’s age. Statistics include:

  • Quitting before 40 years of age reduces your risk of dying from smoking-related disease by about 90%, compared to someone who continues to smoke throughout their life.
  • After 20 years of not smoking, your risk of stroke has reduced to close to that of a person who has never smoked.
  • Within 2 to 5 years of quitting, there is a large drop in your risk of heart attack and stroke.


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