Although Australia has made significant progress in reducing the prevalence of tobacco use, with daily smoking having declined from 24.3% in 1991 to 12.2% in 2016, tobacco remains the leading behaviour risk factor for disease burden and is responsible for nearly 15,000 deaths per year. In 2004/05 the social cost of tobacco was estimated at $31.5 billion, including those impacted by involuntary smoking (“passive” smoking and in utero exposure). NDRI will be updating the social cost of smoking to reflect the change in prevalence. However, it will be important to attempt to quantify harms in high-risk groups, where tobacco use is more prevalent than the general populations. For example, in 2013, 32.3% of Indigenous Australians were daily smokers compared with 12.4% of the non-Indigenous population.
NDRI will be collaborating with leading epidemiologists, policy-makers, economists, Indigenous health experts and tobacco control advocates, with the report scheduled for completion by October 2018.