1.11 Prevalence of use of different types of tobacco product

Last updated: June 2017
Suggested citation: Greenhalgh, EM, Bayly, M, & Winstanley, MH. 1.11 Prevalence of use of different types of tobacco product. In Scollo, MM and Winstanley, MH [editors]. Tobacco in Australia: Facts and issues. Melbourne: Cancer Council Victoria; 2015. Available from http://www.tobaccoinaustralia.org.au/chapter-1-prevalence/1-11-prevalence-of-use-of-different-types-of-tobac

1.11.1 Manufactured cigarettes, roll-your-own cigarettes, pipes and cigars

Most tobacco consumed in Australia is in the form of factory-made cigarettes. Data on prevalence of use of different types of tobacco products were collected by Cancer Council Victoria (formerly the Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria) in regular surveys undertaken between 1974 and 1998, and were reported in the most recent National Drug Strategy Household Surveys. Between 1974 and 1998 male smokers were more likely than female smokers to use pipes or cigars exclusively (Table 1.11.1).

Table 1.11.1
Prevalence of smoking by type of tobacco used, Australian smokers by sex aged 18+, 1974–1998 (data not weighted)


* Pipe/cigar smokers are only those that smoke tobacco in these forms exclusively. Smokers who use a mix of cigarettes and pipes/cigars are included with cigarette smokers.

Source: Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, unpublished data.

Table 1.11.2
Type of tobacco smoked*, smokers aged 18 years and over, Australia, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2010 and 2013


* Respondents could select more than one response therefore totals do not equal 100. Respondents were classified as using the different tobacco product if they indicated at least some use of the product in the past 12 months, irrespective of recency of use.
Sources: National Drug Strategy Household Surveys 2001,1 2004,2 2007,3,4 and 2010,5, 6 and Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer analysis of 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey data.7

Recent data published from the 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey reports on use of manufactured and RYO cigarettes by age group, among current smokers (Table 1.11.3). Among young adult current smokers (those aged 18 to 39 years), there has been a decrease in the proportion who smoke manufactured cigarettes since 2001. Among all age groups under 70 years—but more pronounced in young adults, particularly those aged 18–24 years—there has been a substantial increase in the proportion of current smokers who smoke RYO tobacco. 

Table 1.11.3
Use of manufactured and roll-your-own cigarettes, Australian adult current* smokers, 2001–16—by age group (%) 

 * Includes those reporting that they smoke ‘daily’, ‘at least weekly’, or ‘less than weekly’.

Source: National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2016, Table 5.8  

A large international study on the prevalence and user characteristics of RYO tobacco in Australia and other countries has shown that exclusive RYO smokers are more likely to be male, older, to have a lower level of income, and to have less education.9 This study found that about one-quarter of Australian smokers used RYO products: 15% combined use of manufactured cigarettes and RYO tobacco, and 9% reported exclusive use of RYO.9

1.11.2 Unbranded loose tobacco ('chop-chop')

Chop-chop is finely cut, unbranded 'black market' tobacco which has been grown, distributed and sold without government intervention or taxation.10 Due to its comparative cheapness, some smokers have adopted it as an alternative to, or in addition to, smoking manufactured tobacco.11,12

Questions about the prevalence of usage of chop-chop have been asked in the most recent National Drug Strategy Household Surveys. Further analysis of this data among Australian adults aged 18+ years has shown prevalence of chop-chop use has significantly declined from 2004 to 2013.13 In 2016, only 3.8% of smokers aged 14+ years reported currently using unbranded loose tobacco.8 Two small surveys undertaken in New South Wales showed varying degrees of penetration of chop-chop in the community.11,14

Chop-chop is discussed further in Chapter 3, Section 3.27.2, Chapter 10, Section 10.9.1 and in greatest detail in Chapter 13, Section 13.7.2.

1.11.3 Smokeless tobacco products

Although widely used overseas,15 smokeless tobacco products (those intended for sucking or chewing) are little used in Australia and data concerning the prevalence of their use are sparse. Results from the 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey showed that only 0.3–0.4% of Australians aged 14 years or older reported using chewing tobacco, snus, or snuff in the 12 months prior to completing the questionnaire.16

Leaves from naturally occurring nicotine-containing plants were chewed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples prior to the introduction of conventional tobacco products in the eighteenth century, first by Indonesian fishermen, and later by European settlers. In some Indigenous communities 'bush' tobaccos and manufactured loose or plug tobaccos are still chewed, either alone or in combination, but overall prevalence of use of these substances is extremely low.12, 17-20 Tobacco chewing among the Australian Indigenous population is discussed further in Chapter 8, Section 8.5.

The import, sales and marketing of smokeless tobacco products in Australia is controlled by national legislation.21 However a recent survey showing that smokeless tobacco products are readily available from some South Asian shops in Sydney suggests that there is sufficient local demand for these products for importers and shopkeepers to risk breaking the law.22 For a detailed discussion of smokeless tobacco, see InDepth18A.

1.11.4 Other products

For the first time, the 2013 National Drug Strategy Household survey also asked respondents about their use of cigarillos, waterpipe tobacco (shishas/hookahs/nargillas), and electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes). Among smokers aged 18 years or over, about one in ten (11%) had smoked a cigarillo in the year prior to completing the survey (12% of men and 9% of women).

Across all Australian adults aged 18+ years, 94% had never used waterpipes, 4% had done so but not in the past 12 months, and 2% had used a waterpipe in the past 12 months. Current smokers were additionally asked how often they currently use waterpipe tobacco; 6% of male and 3% of female current smokers aged 18+ years reported currently using waterpipe tobacco. Overall, 1.0% reported that they did so daily, less than 1% used waterpipes at least weekly, and 3% did so less often than weekly.7

For information about the prevalence of use of e-cigarettes, see InDepth 18B.3.

Recent news and research

For recent news items and research on this topic, click here.(Last updated May 2017) 

 

References

1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 2001 National Drug Strategy Household Survey: detailed findings. Drug statistics series no. 11, AIHW cat. no. PHE 41.Canberra: AIHW, 2002. Available from: http://www.aihw.gov.au/publications/index.cfm/title/8227.

2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 2004 National Drug Strategy Household Survey: detailed findings. Drug strategy series no.16, AIHW cat. no. PHE 66.Canberra: AIHW, 2005. Available from: http://www.aihw.gov.au/publications/phe/ndshsdf04/ndshsdf04.pdf.

3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 2007 National Drug Strategy Household Survey: detailed findings. Drug statistics series no. 22, AIHW cat. no. PHE 107.Canberra: AIHW, 2008. Available from: http://www.aihw.gov.au/publications/index.cfm/title/10674.

4. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. National Drug Strategy Household Survey, 2007. Canberra: Australian Social Science Data Archive, The Australian National University, 2008. Viewed: July 2008.

5. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey: survey report. Drug statistics series no. 25, AIHW cat. no. PHE 145.Canberra: AIHW, 2011. Available from: http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=32212254712&libID=32212254712&tab=2.

6. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. National Drug Strategy Household Survey detailed report: 2013. Cat. no. PHE 183 Canberra: AIHW, 2014. Available from: http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=60129549469&tab=3 .

7. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. National Drug Strategy Household Survey, 2013 [computer file], 2015, Australian Data Archive, The Australian National University: Canberra.

8. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) 2016 key findings data tables. Canberra: AIHW, 2017. Available from: http://www.aihw.gov.au/alcohol-and-other-drugs/data-sources/ndshs-2016/data/.

9. Young D, Borland R, Hammond D, Cummings KM, Devlin E, et al. Prevalence and attributes of roll-your-own smokers in the International Tobacco Control (ITC) Four Country Survey. Tobacco Control, 2006; 15(suppl. 3):iii76–iii82. Available from: http://tc.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/abstract/15/suppl_3/iii76  

10. Auditor-General. Administration of tobacco excise.  Audit report No. 55, 2001-02  Performance Audit. Canberra: Australian National Audit Office, Commonwealth of Australia, 2002. Available from: http://www.anao.gov.au/uploads/documents/2001-02_Audit_Report_55.pdf.

11. Bittoun R. 'Chop chop' tobacco smoking   [Letter]. Medical Journal of Australia, 2002; 77:686-7. Available from: http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/177_11_021202/bittoun_021202.pdf

12. Lindorff KJ. Tobacco time for action: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Tobacco Control Project final report. Canberra: National Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, 2002. Available from: http://www.naccho.org.au/Files/Documents/NACCHO_Tobacco_report.pdf.

13. Scollo M, Zacher M, Bayly M, and Wakefield M. Who smokes unbranded illicit tobacco in Australia: results of nationally representative crosssectional household surveys in 2004, 2007, 2010 and 2013. Aust N Z J Public Health, 2015. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1753-6405.12424

14. Walsh R, Paul C, and Stojanovski E. Illegal tobacco use in Australia: how big is the problem of chop-chop? Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 2006; 30(5):484-5. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17073235

15. World Health Organization and International Agency for Research on Cancer. IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans.  Volume 85:  Betel-quid and areca-nut chewing and some areca-nut-derived nitrosamines.  Summary of data reported and evaluation. Lyon: IARC, 2004. Available from: http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol85/volume85.pdf.

16. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, National Drug Strategy Household Survey detailed report: 2013 – Supplementary tables. AIHW: Canberra; 2014. Available from: http://www.aihw.gov.au/alcohol-and-other-drugs/ndshs/.

17. Watson C, Fleming J, and Alexander K. A survey of drug use patterns in Northern Territory Aboriginal communities:1986-1987. Darwin, Australia: Northern Territory Department of Health and Community Services, 1988.

18. Gilchrist D. Smoking prevalence among Aboriginal women. Aboriginal and Islander Health Worker Journal, 1998; 22:4-6. 

19. Briggs VL, Lindorff KJ, and Ivers RG. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and tobacco. Tobacco Control, 2003; 12(suppl. 2):ii5-ii8. Available from: http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/cgi/content/extract/12/suppl_2/ii5

20. Brady M. Historical and cultural roots of tobacco use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 2002; 26:116-20. 

21. Attorney-General's Department and Commonwealth of Australia. Trade Practices Act 1974 (and Amendments). Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia, 2007. Last update: Viewed 18 June 2007. Available from: http://www.comlaw.gov.au/comlaw/management.nsf/lookupindexpagesbyid/IP200401339?OpenDocument.

22. Sachdev P and Chapman S. Availability of smokeless tobacco products in South Asian grocery shops in Sydney, 2004. Medical Journal of Australia, 2005; 183:334. Available from: http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/183_06_190905/letters_190905_fm-1.html

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