Tobacco control key facts and figures

Page last updated: 10 May 2018

Tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable death and disability in Australia, with smoking estimated to kill almost 19,000 Australians a year.1 In 2004-05, the social and economic costs of smoking (including health costs) to Australian society were estimated to be approximately $31.5 billion each year.2

Over the last twenty years Australian Governments have implemented a broad range of tobacco control measures including:

  • staged excise increases on tobacco products;
  • education programs;
  • national tobacco campaigns;
  • plain packaging of tobacco products;
  • labelling tobacco products with updated and larger graphic health warnings;
  • prohibiting tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and
  • providing support for smokers to quit, including through nicotine replacement therapies on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Council of Australian Governments (COAG) tobacco performance benchmark

The COAG performance benchmark for tobacco uses the results from the National Health Survey (NHS) to monitor changes in smoking prevalence in the general population using age standardised rates.

Under the COAG Report on Performance 20163 by 2018, Australian governments have committed to:

  • reducing the daily national smoking rate among Australian adults (aged 18 years or older) from 19.1% (age-standardised) in 2007-08 to 10%; and
  • halving the daily national smoking rate among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults (aged 18 years or older) from 47.7%4
    • (44.8% age-standardised) in the same period.

1 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2016. Australian Burden of Disease Study: Impact and causes of illness and death in Australia 2011. Australian Burden of Disease Study series no. 3. BOD4. Canberra: AIHW. Available at:
2 Collins D., and Lapsley H., (2008) The Cost of Tobacco, Alcohol and Illicit Drug Abuse to Australian Society in 2004/05, Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Health and Ageing, Monograph Series No.64, p65.
3 COAG Report on Performance 2016. Available at:
4 Rate from ABS, 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, used as a baseline figure by the COAG Reform Council.