Smoking prevalence in adults

Why this indicator is important

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 includes adults aged over 16 years in NSW who reported smoking daily and occasionally.

  • From 2010 to 2019, the smoking rate in NSW adults fell by 1.4 percentage points, from 16.9% to 15.5%.

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.

Smoking rate in adults*, NSW, 2010–2019**

* 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 September 2020).
  2. There has been a change in the methodology used to report smoking rates. In this report, we are reporting data for daily and occasional 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.