In 2016, 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
There is considerable variation in prevalence of smoking among individuals born in different countries who have migrated to Australia. Table 1.8.1 indicates that in 2016, migrants from ‘New Zealand and Oceania’ (19%; comprising New Zealand, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia, but excluding Hawaii3) 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 1.8.1 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 onwards, 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. As well as concealing gender differences, the regional summaries provided in Table 1.1.1 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.
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.
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
Percentage of regular* smokers† (rounded)
* 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 2001,9
Relevant news and research
For recent news items and research on this topic, click here.(Last updated March 2020)
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 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.
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 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: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/alcohol-other-drug-treatment-services/2001-ndshs-detailed-findings/contents/table-of-contents
10. 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: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/alcohol-other-drug-treatment-services/2004-ndshs-detailed-findings/contents/table-of-contents
11. 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/10674http://www.aihw.gov.au/publications/index.cfm/title/10674.
12. 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 .
13. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. National Drug Strategy Household Survey, 2013 [computer file], 2015, Australian Data Archive, The Australian National University: Canberra.
14. Australian Institute for Health and Welfare, National Drug Strategy Household Survey, 2016 [computer file]. Canberra: Australian Data Archive, The Australian National University; 2017.