Smoking in youth leads to lifetime habit, global data shows

Up to 93 per cent of current smokers started a habit of smoking daily under the age of 25, new research from an analysis of 22 global adult tobacco surveys shows.

The data will be presented at the Asia-Pacific Cancer Leaders’ Summit APOCP 8th General Assembly this week, hosted by Cancer Council Queensland in Brisbane.

The study also shows that the proportion of current smokers who started smoking daily under the age of 15 was up to 25 per cent across the 20 countries surveyed.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said the study found the rates of daily smoking between 15-25 years had strong and significant correlation with current smoking prevalence.

“The results suggest that globally, those who started smoking between the ages of 15-25 years are more likely to continue their smoking habit, and are more likely to smoke more frequently,” Ms Clift said.

“This finding has global implications for tobacco control, highlighting the importance of preventing uptake in young people.

“International experts will discuss the findings this week, when emerging Indian researcher Dr Mackwin D’Mello presents his research.”

In Queensland, the average age of smoking uptake is 15.8 years and the highest rate of smoking is among young to middle-aged adults (25-44 years) with about one in five smoking daily.

“The latest figures show around 27,000 teenagers aged 14 to 19 smoke daily in Queensland,” Ms Clift said.

“We must do all we can to stop young people from smoking, and prevent them from becoming daily smokers.

“We know the majority of smokers want to quit – and we need to do all we can to prevent young people from being exposed to the habit in the first place.”

Around 3700 Queenslanders die from a tobacco-related disease each year. About 370 of these deaths are caused by second-hand smoke exposure.

On September 1 2016, new laws will come into effect banning smoking at public transport waiting points, pedestrian malls, aged care facilities, specified national parks and at or near children’s organised sporting events and skate parks in Queensland.

Smokers are urged to call the Quitline on 13 QUIT (13 7848) for help with quitting.

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available at or 13 11 20.


For more information or interviews, please contact:
Katie Clift,
Executive Manager,
Media and Spokesperson,
Cancer Council Queensland
Phone: (07) 3634 5372
Mobile: 0409 001 171