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Tobacco smoking remains a major cause of many health problems, but according to a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), Australians' smoking behaviours are improving—with some groups improving more than others.
The report, Tobacco Indicators: measuring mid-point progress—reporting under the National Tobacco Strategy 2012–2018, measures smoking behaviours in Australia against a range of indicators, and shows that across most, Australia is progressing well.
The report's indicators look at a range of smoking phases—including exposure to tobacco smoke, initial uptake of tobacco smoking, established smoking patterns and quitting—and measure progress since the baseline report, released in 2015.
'Since the baseline report, we've seen improvements when it comes to people taking up smoking, with fewer secondary school students and adults trying cigarettes—and those who do, are taking up tobacco smoking at older ages than in the past,' said AIHW spokesperson Tim Beard.
Falls were also recorded in the number of secondary students and adults who smoked regularly with a decline of almost a quarter for both groups.
'Our report also shows a significant fall in the number of children and non-smokers who are exposed to tobacco smoke in the home,' Mr Beard said.
While improvements were seen across all population groups, some achieved greater progress than others.
'For example, despite the fact that Indigenous smoking rates are improving, they are not improving at the same rate as non-Indigenous Australians, so the gap is widening across a number of indicators.'
Similar findings were seen for people living in Remote and Very remote areas (compared to Major cities).
Daily smoking rates significantly improved among people living in the lowest and second-lowest socioeconomic areas, but not at the same rate as those living in the highest socioeconomic area.
The report showed unclear results when it came to quitting, but some positive results were recorded among people who had smoked more than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime (referred to in the report as 'ever-smokers').
Since the baseline report, the proportion of adult ever-smokers who have now quit smoking has risen from 47% to 52%.
In 2013, more than half (52%) of adult ever-smokers had quit smoking (they had not smoked in the last 12 months). This was an increase from 47% in 2010.
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