Department of Family and Community Services
A woman working on some technical equipment.

4.2 Smoking

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Current smoking by people 16 years and over

Current position

13 percent of NSW women aged 16 and over were current smokers in 2011, compared to 17 percent of men.

Gender gap

  • The gender gap with respect to smoking is 4 percentage points, with more men smoking than women.
The direction of
change over time

Between 1997 and 2011, the percentage of adults 16 years and over who were current smokers fell significantly (by 9 percentage points for women and 10 percentage points for men).

Among young women (16 to 24 years) the downward trend has levelled off. Around 16 percent of young women reported being current smokers in 2009, 2010 and 2011.


Tobacco smoking is the single largest cause of ill health, disease and premature death in Australia, contributing to more drug-related hospitalisations than alcohol and illicit drugs combined.

Smoking rates among Australian adults have declined steadily since the early 1970s, and this trend has continued into the 2000s.

More women of low socio-economic status than of high socio-economic status are smokers, and the trend is less clear among low socio-economic groups (see Figure 2.6). The Chief Health Officer reports that while smoking rates for Aboriginal people have decreased slightly over the last decade, Aboriginal women were three or six times as likely to have a smoking-related hospitalisation than non-Aboriginal women in 2010-11.

A ‘current smoker’ is a person who reports smoking on a daily or occasional basis.

Year collected: 2011 and preceding years.
Data source: NSW Adult Population Health Survey (SAPHaRI), Centre for Epidemiology and Evidence, NSW Health and The Health of Aboriginal People of NSW, 2012.
More information is available at

Figure 2.6 Smoking by sex and socio-economic status, NSW, 2002 to 2011

Fig 2.6

Note: Current smoking is defined as smoking on a daily or occasional basis.
Population: People aged 16 years and over.
Source: NSW Adult Population Health Survey (SAPHaRI). Centre for Epidemiology and Evidence, NSW Ministry of Health.