Improvements in life expectancy among Australians due to reductions in smoking: Results from a risk percentiles approach

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Background: Tobacco smoking is a major burden on the Australian population in terms of health, social and economic costs. Because of this, in 2008, all Australian Governments agreed to set targets to reduce prevalence of smoking to 10 % by 2018 and subsequently introduced several very strong anti-smoking measures. On this backdrop, we estimated in 2012-13 the impact of several scenarios related to reduction of smoking prevalence to 10 % across the entire Australian population and for below specific ages, on improving life expectancy. Methods: Using the risk percentiles method the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle (AUSDIAB) baseline survey and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) age-sex specific death counts were analyzed. Results: Amongst men the gains in life expectancy associated with 10 % smoking prevalence are generally greater than those of women with average life expectancy for men increasing by 0.11 to 0.41 years, and for women by 0.12 to 0.29 years. These are at best 54 % and 49 % for men and women of the gains achieved by complete smoking cessation. The gains plateau for interventions targeting those <70 and <80 years. Amongst smokers the potential gains are much greater, with an increase in average life expectancy amongst men smokers of 0.43 to 2.08 years, and 0.73 to 2.05 years amongst women smokers. These are at best 46 % and 38 % for men and women smokers of the gains achieved by complete smoking cessation. Conclusion: The estimated optimum gain in life expectancy is consistent with potentially moderate gains which occur when both men and women below 60 years are targeted to reduce smoking prevalence to 10 %.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number77
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Smoking
  • Reduction
  • Life expectancy
  • Australia
  • Risk percentiles

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