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Smoking facts

The information contained in this section was sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Government Department of Health and Ageing websites.

In Australia:

  • The good news is that overall rates of smoking has decreased for both males and females. The age standardised rate of current smokers for males aged 18 years and over fell from 27% in 2001 to 20% in 2011-12, and declined from 21% in 2001 to 16% for females.
  • However, smoking is recognised as the largest single preventable cause of death and disease in Australia.
  • Each year, smoking kills an estimated 15,000 Australians.

Australian Men:

  • The majority of tobacco-related deaths are cancer. These include lung cancer (77%) and cancers of the oesophagus, mouth, bladder and pancreas.
  • Heart disease accounts for 22% of tobacco-related deaths in men.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) accounts for 19% of tobacco-related deaths in men.

Australian Women:

  • 32% of tobacco-related deaths are cancer. These include lung cancer (75%) and cancers of the oesophagus, pancreas, mouth and bladder.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) accounts for 22% of tobacco-related deaths in women.
  • Heart disease accounts for 20% of tobacco-related deaths in women.

Cigarette smoke contains:

  • Nicotine: an addictive drug, which raises blood pressure, narrows arteries and veins and damages the heart. Over time, this slows the blood flow in the body, decreasing oxygen supply to the peripheries e.g. hands and feet.
  • Carbon monoxide: A gas that takes oxygen supply away from your heart and body. Over time, the airway paths in the lungs swell, which restricts the amount of air that can get into the lungs.
  • Tar: Contains many dangerous chemicals that may either cause cancer or trigger other substances to cause cancer. Over time, tar clogs the lungs, restricting airflow.
  • Phenols: These are hazardous chemicals that kill the hair-like cells found in the bronchus and bronchioles (airway paths). Over time, the body loses the ability to “sweep” mucous and other particles from the lungs and airways, leading to congestion.
  • Fine particles: These irritate the throat and lungs. Over time, a “smoker’s cough” develops, with more mucous produced as more damage is done to the lungs.

Cigarette smoking causes disease and ill-health:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Poor blood circulation
  • Infections
  • Breathing problems
  • Ageing
  • Hearing loss