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Smoking prevalence in adults

Why this indicator is important

The number of people who smoke in NSW has been falling for some years. Despite this fall, 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 that 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 includes adults aged over 16 years in NSW who reported smoking daily.

  • Between 2009 and 2018, the proportion of adults in NSW who smoke decreased from 14.2% to 10.3%.

Note: These data were the latest available at the time they were extracted (June 2019). For the most recent population health data, visit HealthStats NSW.

Daily smoking rate in adults*, NSW, 2009–2018**

Daily smoking rate in adults*, NSW, 2009–to2018**

* 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 June 2019).
  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 who smoked daily or occasionally. In this year's report, we are reporting data for only 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: (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.