The Rising Cost of Smoking in Australia

The Rising Cost of Smoking in Australia: A Closer Look

The Rising Cost of Smoking in Australia

‍The Rising Cost of Smoking in Australia Photo by Konyvesotto on Pixabay

The Rising Cost of Smoking in Australia
Smoking has long been recognized as a detrimental habit with severe health consequences. In Australia, the government has taken bold measures to curb smoking rates and protect public health. One of the most effective strategies employed by the Australian government is increasing the price of cigarettes. In this article, we will explore the extraordinary cost of smoking in Australia and the efforts made to reduce smoking rates.

The Impact of Smoking on Public Health

Smoking-related diseases claim the lives of 20,000 Australians every year. Despite widespread awareness of the health risks, approximately one in eight Australians still smoke. The Australian government has recognized the urgency of addressing this issue and has implemented measures to protect public health.

The Financial Burden of Smoking

The financial burden of smoking is staggering. In the 2015-2016 financial year alone, smoking cost Australia a total of $136.9 billion. This figure includes both tangible and intangible costs associated with smoking.

Tangible Costs

Tangible costs refer to the direct expenses incurred as a result of smoking. In the same financial year, smokers spent $5.5 billion on purchasing cigarettes. Lost productivity and worker absences amounted to $5 billion. Additionally, the cost of caring for individuals with smoking-related diseases, borne by family members, contributed another $2 billion to the overall cost. The significant healthcare burden of smoking is evident in the 1.7 million hospital admissions for smoking-related conditions.

Intangible Costs

Intangible costs are more challenging to quantify but are equally significant. These costs encompass the years of life lost due to premature deaths and the reduced quality of life resulting from living with a serious illness. In the 2015-2016 financial year, the intangible costs of smoking reached a staggering $117.7 billion.

Factors Driving the Rising Costs

Despite a decline in smoking rates over the years, the overall costs of smoking in Australia continue to rise. This may seem counterintuitive, considering the decrease in the number of daily smokers from 17.5% to 12.2% of the population since 2004.

Long Lead Times of Smoking-Related Diseases

The development of diseases associated with smoking often has long lead times. Even if a person quits smoking, they still face an increased risk compared to someone who has never smoked. The effects of smoking from years and even decades earlier still contribute to the costs incurred in recent years.

Increased Costs of Medical Care

Medical care costs have risen over time, contributing to the overall increase in the costs of smoking-related diseases. As the costs of healthcare services increase, so do the expenses associated with treating smoking-related conditions.

Expanded Understanding of Smoking-Related Health Issues

Advancements in medical research have led to an expanded understanding of the health issues caused by smoking. Previously unrecognized smoking-related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, cataracts, and additional cancers, have been linked to smoking. The treatment costs and deaths resulting from these diseases were not included in previous cost estimates.

New Costs Identified

In addition to the previously unaccounted for diseases, new costs associated with smoking have been identified. These include the costs of smoking-related littering and the expenses of informal care provided to individuals with smoking-related illnesses.

The Importance of Intangible Costs

While intangible costs are borne entirely by smokers, they should still be a concern for society as a whole. The loss of enjoyment, reduced quality of life, and financial burdens experienced by smokers should not be dismissed. Many smokers regret starting and struggle to quit. It is essential to consider the negative impacts of smoking on individuals’ lives and the broader community when assessing the costs of smoking.

Future Strategies to Combat Smoking

Tobacco continues to exact a significant toll on Australians in terms of premature death, suffering, reduced quality of life, and financial costs. Although smoking prevalence has declined from its peak in the mid-1970s, with more than three million Australians still smoking, effective strategies to reduce smoking rates remain crucial.

Potential Benefits of Smoking Reduction

Reducing smoking rates has the potential to substantially reduce medical costs, improve the quality of life for smokers and their families, and lessen the financial burden on the Australian community as a whole. With over two-thirds of deaths among smokers attributed to tobacco use, the health impacts and costs of smoking remain high.

The Role of Government and Society

Effective strategies to reduce smoking require a concerted effort from both the government and society. The Australian government has already implemented measures to increase the price of cigarettes, but further steps may be necessary. Public awareness campaigns, support systems for quitting, and restrictions on the availability of cigarettes can all contribute to reducing smoking rates.


The rising cost of smoking in Australia reflects the significant impact of this detrimental habit on public health and the economy. The Australian government’s efforts to increase the price of cigarettes aim to discourage smoking and reduce the financial burden on individuals and society. However, the challenge persists, and further measures must be taken to achieve substantial reductions in smoking rates. By prioritizing public health and implementing effective strategies, Australia can continue its progress towards a smoke-free future.

Note: This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are a smoker and want to quit, please consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance and support.

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