Smoking prevalence in Aboriginal adults

Why this indicator is important

Aboriginal adults have a higher rate of smoking compared to the total NSW adult population.

While the number of people who smoke in NSW has stabilised over recent years, tobacco smoking is still the leading cause of preventable illness and premature death among the NSW population.1

Quitting smoking is an important way to improve a person’s health. Quitting smoking at any time results in substantial health gains.2

Importantly, people who have been diagnosed with cancer will benefit from quitting. Evidence suggests quitting at the time of a cancer diagnosis can:

  • improve a person’s response to treatment
  • reduce the side effects of treatment
  • reduce the risk of cancer recurrence 
  • increase overall survival.2,3

About this indicator

This indicator relates to Aboriginal adults aged 16 years or older who report smoking daily.

  • The daily smoking rate for Aboriginal people in NSW was 26.4% in 2018–19. It was more than double the smoking rate of the overall adult population in NSW.

Note: These data were the latest available at the time they were extracted (August 2020). For the most recent population health data, visit HealthStats NSW.

Daily smoking rate in Aboriginal adults*, NSW, 2009–2019**

N = Number of survey respondents.

* People aged 16 years and over.
** Mobile phone numbers have been included in the survey sample since 2012. Any significant differences observed between 2011 and 2012 estimates should be reported with caution, as they may reflect both real and survey design changes.


  1. Data source: NSW Population Health Survey (sourced from HealthStats NSW, Centre for Epidemiology and Evidence, NSW Ministry of Health. Available at (accessed August 2020).
  2. There has been a change in the methodology used to report smoking rates. In previous reports smoking rates were based on the proportion of people that smoked daily or occasionally. In this years report we are only reporting data for daily smokers.


  1. Begg S, Vos T, Barker B, Stevenson C, Stanley L and Lopez A. The burden of disease and injury in Australia 2003. PHE 82. Canberra: Australian Institute for Health and Welfare, 2007. Available at: (accessed 12 February 2020).
  2. United States Department of Health and Human Services. The health consequences of smoking — 50 years of progress: a report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, National Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014. Available at: https://www.ncbi. (accessed February 2020).
  3. Parsons A, Daley A, Burgh R, Aveyard P. Influence of smoking cessation after diagnosis of early stage lung cancer on prognosis: systematic review of observational studies with meta-analysis. BMJ 2010 Jan 21;340:b5569 doi: 10.1136/bmj. b5569.