Tobacco smoking is one of the largest preventable causes of death and disease in Australia. Smoking is estimated to kill almost 20,500 Australians a year (13% of all deaths) and was responsible for 8.6% of the total burden of disease in Australia in 2018 (AIHW 2021).
Using the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) experimental Smoker Status, Australia 2020–21 data set, this report examines the prevalence of smoking among Australians who have ever served in the Australian Defence Force (ADF). In one of the first studies of its kind within Australia, the Smoking among Australia’s veterans 2020–21 report identifies subpopulations of veterans who may be at higher risk of smoking.
Overall, veterans were equally or less likely to smoke than the broader Australian population, depending on the subpopulation measured
Those who had ever served in the ADF were equally likely to be current smokers as those who had never served across most demographic, population, and geographical characteristics. The exceptions to this were males aged 18–44, males who rated their health as fair or poor, and males living in Western Australia, each of which were less likely to be current smokers than males of the same subpopulations who had never served.
Male veterans were more likely to smoke than female veterans
Males who had ever served in the ADF were more likely to be current smokers than females who had ever served (13% compared with 6.7%, respectively). For more information, see Demographic profile of veterans who smoke.
Male veterans living in lone person/group households were more likely to smoke than those living in family households
Males who had ever served in the ADF and lived in lone person/group households were more likely to be current smokers than males who had ever served and lived in family households with and without dependent children (22%, compared with 8.6% and 11%, respectively). For more information, see Population characteristics.
Among male veterans, rates of smoking decreased as highest level of educational attainment increased
Rates of current smoking decreased as level of educational attainment increased, with those who had completed a bachelor degree or higher being less likely to be current smokers than those who had completed year 12 or below (7.4% compared with 15%, respectively). For more information, see Population characteristics.