2.7 Per capita consumption in Australia compared with other countries

Per capita tobacco (or cigarette) consumption–the amount of tobacco (or number of cigarettes) per person per year sold for domestic consumption–is a useful index with which to try to compare different levels of tobacco use in different countries. However, as outlined in the section above, these indices should be interpreted with great care. Figures calculated by different researchers may be based on varying ways of estimating either or both the tobacco numerator and the population denominator.

Estimates of the numbers of cigarettes sold are sometimes based on production and trade data, sometimes on customs and excise data and sometimes on industry sales figures. Often sources are incompletely or inconsistently reported or not reported at all.

Even for studies that exclusively compare the same type of consumption data, inconsistencies may still remain.

Different countries levy excise and customs duty on tobacco in different ways. Some levy it per cigarette stick sold. Others levy it on the basis of the weight of tobacco sold. Others still levy it on the value of tobacco sales. Among countries where tobacco is levied by weight, some include the weight of the filter and some don't. In some countries the weight excised is net of moisture content; in some countries the moisture is included in the excisable weight. To enable comparison with countries that tax tobacco on the basis of weight, figures from countries that levy tax per cigarettes are converted to weight, mostly assuming that one cigarette is equal to one gram. However one gram is probably an overestimate of the weight of cigarettes in most countries, and actual average weight must have varied considerably between countries and over time.

It is also necessary to be careful where numbers of cigarettes are used in the numerator. Some estimates include only cigarettes and some convert cigars, pipe, roll-your-own and other tobacco to 'cigarette equivalents'. If only cigarettes are included, cigarettes per capita will underestimate tobacco consumption depending on the extent of use of these other products.

Record-keeping systems in national tax offices are designed not to provide valid estimates of tobacco consumption, but, rather, primarily, to accurately record revenue. In some countries, for instance, it is not easy to distinguish imports of manufactured smoking tobacco from imports of manufactured tobacco sheet or even raw tobacco that are destined not for retail sale but for factories that produce tobacco products that will be subject to excise duty. Inclusion of such items in estimates of imported tobacco products results in double counting and an overestimate of the amount of tobacco consumed.

And, of course, official tax receipts also underestimate consumption in that smuggled cigarettes are not included; consumption of illicit products is a much more significant proportion of total consumption in some countries than in others.

Population figures used to calculate such indexes of tobacco consumption are also not entirely straightforward. Sometimes these are based on the total population. Other times the figure includes only adults, sometimes adults 18 and over, sometimes adults 16 and over, and sometimes people 15 and over. In countries with very low female smoking prevalence, overall consumption figures will be lower than in countries with higher female smoking prevalence, even though cigarette consumption among males may be very high. In some analyses, researchers have calculated per capita consumption for some products just for males. Some researchers have included and some have excluded armed services personnel in population estimates.1 Estimates of resident population are higher at the end of a year than at the beginning, and they are also subject to revision. In Australia estimates of resident population are revised following collection of data in the five-yearly census.

Finally, of course, consumption in various countries in one particular year says nothing about the relative reductions in consumption in such countries over time.

Table 2.6 of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's Statistics on Drug Use in Australia 2006 (reproduced in Table 2.7.1) included some estimates of per capita consumption for 15 OECD countries over the 30 years to 2005.2 i

Table 2.7.1
Tobacco consumption, grams per capita, population aged 15 years and over, selected countries, 1975 to 2005

1975

1985

1995

2005

Change 1975 to 2005

Greece

3230

3538'2

Germany

2673

2388

2250

2046

–23%

Turkey

1388

1259

2329

1869'1

35%

Hungary

2890

2705

1833

1786'2

–38%

Sweden

2040

2040

1675

1654'1

–19%

Denmark

2179

2000

1692

1567'1

–28%

Iceland

2992

2833

2059

1532'1

–49%

United States

3506

2676

1905

1452

–59%

France

2409

2075

1321

Australia

3205

2393

1488

1315'2

–59%

United Kingdom

2600

2348

1871

1178'1

–55%

Norway

2130

1960

1661

1142

–46%

Canada

3136

2610

1672

1108'1

–65%

New Zealand

3232

2493

1474

1033

–68%

Finland

1746

1379

1072

1077'1

–38%

Note: '1 '2 data from 1 or 2 previous years.

Source: AIHW 20072 Table 2.6. Original table uses data from Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development 2006. Statistics and indicators for 30 countries (CD-ROM). Paris: OECD (no longer available on-line).

In the 28 years from 1975, per capita consumption fell by about 60% in Australia, substantially more than the falls in most of Europe, roughly the same as the fall in the 30 years since 1975 in the US, slightly more than the fall over a similar period in the UK and somewhat less than the falls in New Zealand and Canada.

Table 2.8 of Drugs in Australia 20104 includes data on daily consumption from a number of countries. This is reproduced in Table 2.7.2. It is not clear if this is self-report data, or estimates calculated by dividing the number of cigarettes dutied by the estimated number of smokers.

Table 2.7.2
Number of cigarettes per smoker per day, population aged 15 years and over, selected countries, 2009 (or most recent estimate)

Cigarettes per smoker per day

  Cigarettes per smoker per day

Spain

20.93

France

14.43

Austria

16.73

Ireland

14.02

United States

15.91

Australia

13.92

Turkey

15.81

Denmark

13.54

Korea

15.51

Italy

13.51

Canada

15.01

United Kingdom

13.01

Slovak Republic

15.03

New Zealand

13.11

Germany

15.04

Norway

11.8

Finland

14.71

Switzerland

11.72

Czech Republic

14.41

Netherlands

11.4

1 = data from 2008; 2 = data from 2007; 3 = data from 2006; 4 = data from 2005

Source: AIHW 20114 Original table uses data from OECD 2010. OECD health data 2010: statistics and indicators. Online version. Paris: OECD.

These figures suggest that smokers in Australia smoke less than their counterparts in the US, Canada and France but more than smokers in Italy, the UK and New Zealand.

Figure 2.7.1 plots per capita data on cigarettes collected for an atlas published by the American Cancer Society in conjunction with the World Lung Foundation. It compares various indicators of tobacco use and tobacco control across all countries.5 These figures update those compiled a few years earlier for the second edition of the atlas,6 and are also more recent than those collected for the second edition of American Cancer Society's Tobacco Country Profiles published in 2003.7

Figure 2.7.1

Figure 2.7.1
Estimated per capita consumption of cigarettes in 2007: OECD countries plus South Africa, China and Russian Federation

Source: Mackay et al 20065

Notes: Mackay et al 20065 use data from ERC Statistics International Plc 20118 (Also reproduced on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_cigarette_consumption_per_capita )

These figures include manufactured cigarettes only, and exclude roll-your-own tobacco. A higher percentage of smokers in the UK, New Zealand and several other countries smoke roll-your-own than do smokers in Australia. (For recent estimates of total per capita consumption of tobacco products in New Zealand see http://socialreport.msd.govt.nz/health/cigarette-smoking.html)

Data from the ERC report cited at Figure 2.7.2 suggest that consumption in Australia over the past 10 years until 2009 has fallen less in Australia than in New Zealand, the UK and the US, and substantially less than in Canada.

Figure 2.7.2

Figure 2.7.2
Percentage change in number of cigarettes consumed 2009 compared to 1999, selected European, Asian and English-speaking countries

Source: ERC Statistics International Plc 20119

Note: Relates to cigarette consumption trends. The ERC report does not specify how it calculates consumption.


i It appears that information on per capita consumption is no longer compiled by the OECD. Data at www.oecd-ilibrary.org/social-issues-migration-health/tobacco-consumption-2009_20758480-2009-table14 while labelled 'tobacco consumption' seems to relate only to prevalence.3

References

1. Psoter W and Morse D. Annual per capita apparent consumption of tobacco products in the United States: 1900-1990. Preventive Medicine 2001;32(1):1–9. Available from: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/ap/pm/2001/00000032/00000001/art00780

2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Statistics on drug use in Australia 2006. Drug statistics series no. 18, cat. no. PHE 80W. Canberra: AIHW, 2007. Available from: http://www.aihw.gov.au/publications/index.cfm/title/10393

3. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. OECD Health Data 2011 - Frequently Requested Data. Paris: 2011 [viewed 6 January 2012]. Available from: http://www.oecd.org/document/16/0,3746,en_2649_34631_2085200_1_1_1_1,00.html

4. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Drugs in Australia 2010: tobacco, alcohol and other drugs. Drug statistics series no. 27, cat. no. PHE 154. Canberra: AIHW, 2011. Available from: http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=10737420497&tab=2

5. Shafey O, Eriksen M, Ross H and Mackay J. The tobacco atlas, 3rd edn. American Cancer Society, 2010. Available from: http://www.cancer.org/AboutUs/GlobalHealth/CancerandTobaccoControlResources/the-tobacco-atlas-3rd-edition

6. Mackay J, Eriksen M and Shafey O. The Tobacco Atlas, Second Edition. Washington: The American Cancer Society and the Union Internationale Contre le Cancer, 2006. Available from: http://www.cancer.org/docroot/AA/content/AA_2_5_9x_Tobacco_Atlas.asp

7. American Cancer Society, International Union against Cancer and World Health Organization. Tobacco Country Profiles 2nd Edition. Atlanta Georgia,: ACS, 2003. Available from: http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTHEALTHNUTRITIONANDPOPULATION/EXTETC/0,,contentMDK:20225516~menuPK:376607~pagePK:148956~piPK:216618~theSitePK:376601,00.html

8. ERC Statistics International Plc. Tobacco market reports. London: ERC Statistics International Plc, 2011 [viewed 6 December 2011]. Available from: http://www.erc-world.com/tob.html

9. ERC Statistics International Plc. Tobacco Business - May 2010. London: ERC Statistics International Plc, 2011 [viewed 6 December 2011]. Available from: http://www.erc-world.com/sample/Tob%20Business%20May%2010.pdf

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