1.8 Trends in prevalence of smoking by country of birth

Last updated: July 2020
Suggested citation: Greenhalgh, EM, Bayly, M, & Scollo MM. 1.8 Trends in prevalence of smoking by country of birth. In Greenhalgh, EM, Scollo, MM and Winstanley, MH [editors].  Tobacco in Australia: Facts and issues . Melbourne: Cancer Council Victoria; 2020. Available from  http://www.tobaccoinaustralia.org.au/chapter-1-prevalence/1-3-prevalence-of-smoking-adults

 

According to the 2016 Census, over one quarter (28.5%) of Australian residents were born overseas, 1 and more than one-fifth (21%) of Australians spoke a language other than English at home. 2

1.8.1 Latest estimates of prevalence of smoking by country of birth

There is considerable variation in prevalence of smoking among individuals born in different countries who have migrated to Australia. 3

Smoking rates in 2019 among those 14 years and born in each of several major region of the world are set out in Table 1.8.1.

Table 1.8.1
Tobacco smoking status, people aged 14 years and older, by country of birth and language spoken at home, 2019 (per cent)

 

* Never smoked more than 100 cigarettes (manufactured or roll-your own) or the equivalent amount of tobacco.

† Smoked 100 cigarettes (manufactured and/or roll-your-own) or the equivalent amount of tobacco and reports no longer smoking

‡ Smoked daily, weekly or less than weekly

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Data tables: National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2019 – 2. Tobacco smoking chapter, Supplementary data tables, Table 2.7. Canberra: AIHW, 2020. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/illicit-use-of-drugs/national-drug-strategy-household-survey-2019/data.

As well as concealing gender differences, the regional summaries provided in Table 1.8.1 are likely to disguise higher smoking rates within some smaller population sub-groups. For example, small studies have found that as many as half of men with Chinese or Vietnamese backgrounds in Sydney are smokers. 4, 5 Although adult prevalence of smoking is higher in some groups with a non-English speaking background, studies from New South Wales have consistently shown that children within these families have a lower prevalence of smoking than their counterparts from English-speaking homes. 6-8 See Chapter 5 for further discussion.

1.8.2 Trends in smoking prevalence by country of birth

Table 1.8.2 sets out data on regular smoking (daily plus at least weekly smoking) for Australians 18+ from each of the National Drug Strategy Household Surveys between 2001 and 2016. (Data for those 18 and over is not included in the initial report of the 2019 survey and will be added to Table 1.8.2 once the datafile for the survey becomes available.)  Analysis of this data indicates that in 2016, ‘New Zealand and Oceania’ (19%; comprising New Zealand, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia, but excluding Hawaii 9 ) followed closely by ‘North Africa and the Middle East’ (18%) were the regions with highest prevalence of regular smoking, however, smoking among migrants from ‘other’ regions was highest at 22%. It should be noted that in some of the regions listed, smoking is predominantly a male behaviour (see Section 1.3.3), but since the data in Table 1.8.2 are not broken down by gender, any sex differential in smoking is not apparent. Likewise, possible age differentials in smoking prevalence are not explored.

In each of the survey years from 2004 to 2016, people who were born outside Australia were significantly less likely to be regular smokers than those born in Australia (controlling for age and sex). In 2001, there was no significant difference between groups. In all years, the prevalence of smoking was significantly higher in households in which the main language spoken at home was English, compared with those who mainly spoke a language other than English at home, again controlling for age and sex.

For more information on smoking among people of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds see Chapter 9. Cessation programs designed to suit the needs of these groups are discussed in Section 7.19.7.

Table 1.8.2
Regular smoking among persons aged 18 years and over, by country of birth and main language spoken at home, 2001, 2004, 2007 , 2010, 2013, and 2016

 

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

† Includes persons smoking any combination of cigarettes, pipes or cigars.

‡ Note: Further data on country of birth not supplied in 2010.

^ Sub-Saharan Africa not included as a category pre-2013.

Note: All data weighted to the Australian population appropriate for each survey year and may vary slightly from data presented in previous edition. Source: National Drug Strategy Household Survey for 2001,10 200411 ,200712 2010,13 2013,14 and 201615

 

Relevant news and research

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References to Section 1.8

1. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 3412.0 - Migration, Australia, 2015–16. 2016. Available from: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/3412.0

2. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2016 Census: Multicultural. 2017. Available from: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/lookup/Media%20Release3

3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Data tables: National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2019 - 8. Priority population groups supplementary tables. Canberra: AIHW, 2020. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/illicit-use-of-drugs/national-drug-strategy-household-survey-2019/data.

4. Rissel C, McLellan L, and Bauman A. Factors associated with delayed tobacco uptake among Vietnamese/Asian and Arabic youth in Sydney, NSW. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 2000; 24:22–8. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10777974

5. Jiang W, Leung B, Tam N, Xu H, Gleeson S, et al. Smoking status and associated factors among male Chinese restaurant workers in metropolitan Sydney. Health Promotion Journal of Australia, 2016. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27324668

6. Tang L, Rissel C, Bauman A, Fay K, Porter S, et al. A longitudinal study of smoking in year 7 and 8 students speaking English or a language other than English at home in Sydney, Australia. Tobacco Control, 1998; 7(1):35–40. Available from: http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/cgi/content/abstract/7/1/35

7. Rissel C, McLellan L, and Bauman A. Factors associated with delayed tobacco uptake among Vietnamese/Asian and Arabic youth in Sydney, NSW. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 2000; 24(1):22–8. Available from: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/119012648/abstract

8. Chen J, Bauman A, Rissel C, Tang K, Forero R, et al. Substance use in high school students in New South Wales, Australia, in relation to language spoken at home. Journal of Adolescent Health, 2000; 26:53-63. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1054139X98001311

9. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Statistical Concepts Library.  Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC) 1998.  Chapter 2.  Main classification structure.  Major groups and minor groups. Catalogue 1269.0.  . Canberra: AGPS, 1998. Available from: http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/1269.01998?OpenDocument.

10. Australian Institute for Health and Welfare. 2001 National Drug Strategy Household Survey: Detailed findings.  . Drug Statistics Series No. 11, Cat. No. PHE 41 Canberra: AIHW, 2002. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/alcohol-other-drug-treatment-services/2001-ndshs-detailed-findings/contents/table-of-contents.

11. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 2004 National Drug Strategy Household Survey: Detailed Findings Drug Statistics Series No. 16, Cat. No. PHE 66 Canberra: AIHW, 2005. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/alcohol-other-drug-treatment-services/2004-ndshs-detailed-findings/contents/table-of-contents.

12. 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.

13. 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: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/illicit-use-of-drugs/ndshs-2010/contents/table-of-contents.

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

15. Australian Institute for Health and Welfare, National Drug Strategy Household Survey, 2016 [computer file]. Canberra: Australian Data Archive, The Australian National University; 2017.