Tobacco smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Australia today. Smoking increases blood pressure, reduces blood oxygen levels and damages blood vessels, heightening the risk of plaques and clots.

People who smoke are at increased risk for the development and progression of chronic kidney disease – and that risk increases with greater lifetime exposure to smoking (Hallan and Orth 2011; Yacoub et al. 2010). Smoking contributes to negative outcomes for people with kidney transplants (Mercado and Jaimes 2007). Smoking also contributes to the development of other chronic diseases closely linked to chronic kidney disease, including cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes (Briganti et al. 2002).

Australia’s smoking rate has fallen over the past 40 years, largely attributable to public health strategies. However, the proportion of people continuing to smoke is still concerning, particularly in some population groups such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and people living in low socioeconomic areas (Greenhalgh et al. 2022).

In 2022–23, based on results from the National Drug Strategy Household Survey:

  • 8.3% of people aged 14 and over smoked daily (males 9.0%, females 7.7%) 
  • men and women aged 50–59 had the highest proportion of current daily smokers (12.1% and 11.9%, respectively).

Between 2001 and 2022–23: 

  • the proportion age 14 and over who smoked daily decreased by 57% for both males and females 
  • daily smoking rates among males and females aged 15–24 decreased by 74% and 82%, respectively (AIHW 2024).

Use of e-cigarettes

While the proportion of Australians who smoke tobacco may be declining, the use of e-cigarettes is becoming more common, particularly among young adults. Current use of e-cigarettes among people aged 14 and over nearly tripled between 2019 (2.5%) and 2022–23 (7.0%) while quadrupling among people aged 18–‍24 (from 5.3% to 21%) and increasing more than five-fold among people aged 14–‍17 (from 1.8% to 9.7%) (AIHW 2024).

See the National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2022–23 report for more information.