Smoking is a leading risk factor for chronic disease and death, including many types of cancer, respiratory disease and heart disease. Exposure to tobacco smoke (second-hand smoking) also causes numerous health conditions among adults and children, and smoking (first or second hand) during pregnancy can affect the health of both mother and baby [3, 4].

Tobacco use was estimated to be responsible for 9% of the total burden of disease and injury in Australia in 2011. It was estimated that 80% of lung cancer burden and 75% of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease burden was attributable to tobacco use.

Strategies to minimise the harm caused by tobacco smoking have been in place for decades. These have included advertising bans; bans on smoking indoors and increasingly in outdoor public spaces; plain packaging; price increases, restrictions on sales to minors, publication, and media campaigns [1, 2].

The National Tobacco Strategy 2012–2018, sets out a national framework to reduce tobacco-related harm in Australia. Its goal is 'to improve the health of all Australians by reducing the prevalence of smoking and its associated health, social and economic costs, and the inequalities it causes' [1].

Australia has been successful in reducing smoking prevalence over many years through the use of such strategies. Fewer people are smoking daily and more people have never smoked compared with 20 years ago.


  1. IGCD (Intergovernmental Committee on Drugs) 2013. National Tobacco Strategy 2012–2018.
    Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.
  2. MCDS (Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy) 2011. National Drug Strategy 2010–2015: a framework for action on alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Canberra: Department of Health and Ageing.
  3. State Government of Victoria (SGV) 2014. Pregnancy and smoking. Viewed 15 May 2015.
  4. USDHHS (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) 2014. The health consequences of smoking—50 years of progress: a report of the Surgeon General (PDF). Atlanta: USDHHS, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health. Viewed 10 May 2016.