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Fact Sheet

The NSW Quit Campaign FACT SHEET 7


The costs of tobacco smoking can be looked at in a number of ways. The most obvious cost in dollar terms is for health care and lost productivity associated with tobacco-related illness. Another cost - which is difficult to measure in dollar terms - is the pain and suffering of individual smokers and the fact that their quality of life is reduced and their life span shortened by smoking. Then there is the cost of cigarettes to the smoker. Other less obvious costs include fires and accidents caused by smoking.


· In Australia in 1989-90 expenditure on tobacco products was $235 per head of population over the age of 15 years. This represented nearly 2% of personal expenditure.

· The amount Australians are spending on tobacco products has been declining since 1982, from $180 per head in 1982 to $134 per head in 191 (based on average 1984-85 prices).

· According to a 1984 study, the higher the income, the greater the expenditure on cigarettes (for example, those earning $860 per week in 1984 spent an average of $2.58 per week on cigarettes compared with those earning $860 or more per week, who spent an average of $7.28 per week). In other words, people on lower incomes are spending proportionally more of their income on cigarettes $2.2% as opposed to 0.8%).

· In 1993 $24 million was spent per day in New South Wales.


· The Australian Cancer Society estimates that one million Australian lives have been lost this century due to smoking-related diseases.

· The number of deaths in Australia in 1989 due to active smoking has been estimated at 19,800.

· These account for approximately 21% of all male deaths and 8% of all female deaths in Australia. (The difference in mortality rates for males and females is expected to diminish in coming years as a result of the reduction in the number of men smoking).


· Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in Australian men and the third most common cause of cancer death in women. 78% of lung cancers in men and 73% in women can be attributed to smoking.

· Other cancers associated with smoking include cancers of the oral cavity, oesophagus and larynx, stomach, pancreas, cervix, bladder and kidney. These account for approximately 10% of smoking-related deaths.

· Ischaemic heart disease accounts for approximately 29% of deaths due to smoking. Other circulatory diseases account for a further 14%.

· Chronic bronchitis accounts for approximately 18% of deaths due to smoking.


It is estimated that 146 Australians die each year as a result of passive smoking. (See Fact Sheet 5).


The most well-known estimate of costs associated with tobacco abuse in Australia was undertaken by Collins and Lapsley on behalf of the Department of Community Services and Health in 1991. This study estimates the total cost of tobacco abuse for 1988 as $6.8 billion, representing nearly 50% of the total cost of drug abuse in Australia.

The study also takes into account the loss of production due to sickness and death as a result of smoking and the intangible costs of tobacco abuse such as loss of life and human suffering. These intangible costs are estimated at more than $6 billion and account for the bulk of the total costs of tobacco abuse.



The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimate that revenue from tobacco sales in 1988-89 was $3.5 billion.

Obviously, when comparing revenue from smoking ($3.5 billion) with economic costs $6 billion(, the costs of smoking to the community far outweigh the benefits.


The NSW Health Services Research Group has estimated the number of tobacco-related admissions and bed days in NSW public and private acute hospitals for the 1988-89 fiscal year and the costs of treating these admissions. They estimate the direct inpatient costs at $144 million.


Statistic collated by the NSW Fire Brigade for 1991 show the following breakdown of fires caused by smoking in NSW:



· Recent research indicates that smokers are three times more likely to crash a car than non-smokers. They are also more likely to forget things, lose concentration faster and make more errors than non-smokers.

· Australians who smoke have been shown to take more sick leave than non-smokers.

· Smokers incur higher life insurance premiums than non-smokers.

    The Non-Smokers' Movement of Australia Inc, Box K860, Haymarket NSW 1240.  
This page was last updated on 21st April, 2006,
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