Level of highest educational attainment
Among the broader Australian population, having higher academic aspirations is a protective factor against smoking among students (Wood et al. 2019). Disengagement with schoolwork, schoolwork difficulties, poor academic performance and low levels of educational attainment are associated with higher rates of smoking (Minkkinen et al. 2018; Wells 2021).
How did we define levels of highest educational attainment in this report?
Level of education refers to the quality and complexity of an instructional program (ABS 2021b). Programs are delivered by education providers across Australia including schools, vocational education institutions and universities.
In this report, level of highest educational attainment has been defined as:
- Bachelor Degree or higher – includes Bachelor Degree Level, Graduate Diploma and Graduate Certificate not further defined, Graduate Diploma Level, Graduate Certificate Level, Post Graduate Degree Level (including not further defined), Doctoral Degree Level and Master’s Degree Level.
- Advanced Diploma/Diploma – includes Advanced Diploma and Associate Degree Level and Diploma Level.
- Certificate III/IV – includes Certificates III and IV Level not further defined, Certificate III and Certificate IV.
- Year 12 or below – includes Secondary Education Year 12 or equivalent, Year 11, Year 10, Certificates I and II Level not further defined, Certificate I, Certificate II, Secondary Education Year 9 and Year 8 or below, Secondary Education not further defined and Certificate Level not further defined.
Due to small counts, individuals who had no educational attainment, or whose level of educational attainment (non-school only) was unable to be determined, were excluded from this analysis.
Analysis of the ABS Smoker Status, Australia 2020–21 data set indicated that in 2020–21, for males aged 18 years and over who had ever served in the ADF:
- across all education levels, rates of current smoking were similar to males who had never served in the ADF (Figure 3).
- those whose highest level of education was year 12 or below were around twice as likely to smoke as those who had completed a bachelor degree or higher (15% and 7.4%, respectively). Among males who had never served, those whose highest level of education was year 12 or below were over 3 times as likely to smoke as those who had completed a bachelor degree or higher (19% and 6.0%, respectively).
Figure 3: Current smoker status of males, by level of highest educational attainment and ADF service status 2020–21
The bar chart shows that smoking rates among males were similar between ADF service statuses, regardless of educational attainment.