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Keywords:

  • smoking;
  • surveillance;
  • adult;
  • socio-economic status;
  • Australia

Abstract

Objective: To examine changes in regular smoking prevalence among demographic and socioeconomic groups of Victorian adults from 1984 to 2008.

Methods: Data were drawn from face-to-face and telephone surveys of randomly sampled Victorians conducted annually from 1984 to 2008.

Results: Regular smoking in Victoria declined from 33.2% in 1984 to 15.5% in 2008, a relative decline of 53%. This change was largely accounted for by significant drops in ‘ever smoking’ among 18–29 year olds (from 59% to 35%, a relative decline of 41%) and by increased quitting among those aged 30 and older (from a quit proportion [% of those ever smoked who have quit] of 37% to 61% among 30–49 year olds, a relative increase of 64%; and from 53% to 79% among 50+ years, an increase of 48%). Over time, smoking prevalence became more similar between males and females. Regular smoking declined significantly across all socioeconomic status (SES) groups. Victorians living in low SES areas experienced the greatest relative increase in quit proportions of 75% (from 34% to 60%), helping to reduce the gap between low and higher SES groups in terms of smoking prevalence.

Conclusions: Regular smoking in Victoria has declined substantially across all demographic groups. Victorians are taking up smoking at much lower levels than 25 years ago, while quit proportions have more than doubled.

Implications: The continuation and extension of comprehensive, multi-level approaches to tobacco control is likely to be required for the maintenance of the downward trend in smoking.