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Fifty-year forecasts of daily smoking prevalence: can Australia reach 5% by 2030?


Objective To compare 50-year forecasts of Australian tobacco smoking rates in relation to trends in smoking initiation and cessation and in relation to a national target of ≤5% adult daily prevalence by 2030.

Methods A compartmental model of Australian population daily smoking, calibrated to the observed smoking status of 229 523 participants aged 20–99 years in 26 surveys (1962–2016) by age, sex and birth year (1910–1996), estimated smoking prevalence to 2066 using Australian Bureau of Statistics 50-year population predictions. Prevalence forecasts were compared across scenarios in which smoking initiation and cessation trends from 2017 were continued, kept constant or reversed.

Results At the end of the observation period in 2016, model-estimated daily smoking prevalence was 13.7% (90% equal-tailed interval (EI) 13.4%–14.0%). When smoking initiation and cessation rates were held constant, daily smoking prevalence reached 5.2% (90% EI 4.9%–5.5%) after 50 years, in 2066. When initiation and cessation rates continued their trajectory downwards and upwards, respectively, daily smoking prevalence reached 5% by 2039 (90% EI 2037–2041). The greatest progress towards the 5% goal came from eliminating initiation among younger cohorts, with the target met by 2037 (90% EI 2036–2038) in the most optimistic scenario. Conversely, if initiation and cessation rates reversed to 2007 levels, estimated prevalence was 9.1% (90% EI 8.8%–9.4%) in 2066.

Conclusion A 5% adult daily smoking prevalence target cannot be achieved by the year 2030 based on current trends. Urgent investment in concerted strategies that prevent smoking initiation and facilitate cessation is necessary to achieve 5% prevalence by 2030.

  • Public policy
  • Surveillance and monitoring
  • End game

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

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