Women tend to smoke less heavily than men, and also to choose lower tar brands.
Table 16.7 below shows the average number of cigarettes smoked per day among smokers questioned about their personal consumption in national surveys.
Measurements of levels of tar and other noxious substances contained in Australian cigarettes are assessed by machine under laboratory conditions, and have been published periodically by the federal government. Because people do not smoke a cigarette in the same way as a machine, the levels obtained by these means do not necessarily represent the levels ingested by the smoker (see Chapter 2, Section 7 and Chapter 5, Section 3 for further discussion). The estimates below are made with these known reservations.
Men have higher average tar exposure than women, and probably have had for some time. This is due to the fact that males have a higher daily consumption of cigarettes than women (see Table 16.7 above), and because they tend to smoke higher tar cigarettes than women.(15,29) In 1989, the average tar content of cigarettes smoked by men was 9.3 mg, compared to 8.4 mg for women.(15)
Table 16.8 shows that mean daily tar exposure is declining for both sexes. This reflects the trend towards lower tar content in cigarette brands, and a move to lower tar brands among smokers. Combined with falling prevalence rates, this directly affects lung cancer death rates (see Chapter 3, Section 2, and Section 16.5 below). For further information on changes in tar content over time, refer to Chapter 5, Section 3.
For further information about Australian patterns of tobacco consumption and exposure over time to the other toxic substances contained in tobacco smoke, see Chapter 2.