May 22, 2014 | Graham

Convenience not cost the key to lower smoking rates

It was an ABC report that alerted me to the fact that smoking rates in New York are now down around 15%, declining from 24% a few years ago.

This is far lower than Australia’s which is around 18%.

The ABC report suggested a number of reasons for the decline, and they are presumably the same factors driving decline in Australia. They are price, and making it harder to smoke in public.

But which is more important?

When reports of New York deal with price, they cite the high price of a packet of 20 cigarettes at $12.

But the price of the same packet in Australia would be $20. The currency effects mean this is effectively a 50% higher price in Australia.

So, if price were the key, our smoking rates ought to be lower, but in fact they are higher.

The insignificance of price signals in the mix is also suggested when you realise that those who can afford to smoke the most are least likely to smoke at all.

You can see that pretty clearly in this graph of New South Wales smokers comparing the average with various disadvantaged groups.


This points to convenience factors being the main driver, as well as the Australian government deriving a super profit from smokers in this country, well over and above any health benefits the government derives.

Good thing Joe Hockey didn’t hit smokers up in this budget. They’re one group who are more than paying their own way.

Posted by Graham at 7:58 am | Comments (3) |
Filed under: Uncategorized


  1. Yes Graham, and none more than those who don’t mind the very occasional cigar, which I always seem to get on my b’day or at Christmas. Pound for pound, gold would be cheaper!
    I did a little amateur boxing in my callow youth and our trainer, counselled us not to smoke, or failing that, smoke a pipe!
    Apparently a pipe is no better, even one not inhaled, given the number of related throat cancers.
    That left only cigars, and similar tobacco products, made only with naturally dried, unadulterated tobacco.
    There is at least one school of thought that suggests that the link between cancer and smoking only started to become a statistic, when kiln drying and additives became part of the smoking experience?
    And that everything taken from nature in moderation, is not harmful, but rather when taken in excess?
    I heard on the ABC, a couple of days ago, that E smokes are a more significant part of quitting (60%) than all the patches etc?
    Perhaps New Yorkers were introduced to them earlier than us?
    Alan B. Goulding.

    Comment by Alan B. Goulding — May 22, 2014 @ 4:33 pm

  2. Not sure about the E smokes Alan. Smoking rates have been coming down for a long time, and I think the social bars – like having to smoke outside the office – have done the most.

    Comment by Graham — May 22, 2014 @ 5:37 pm

  3. Interesting Graham, perhaps we Australians have a traditional dislike of authority, particularly where wowsers try to interfere with our freedom of choice?
    If one were to drop a but in downtown Moscow, one would be approached by a very large Russian policeman, saying, that’s not cultural comrade, and blocking your path until you went back and picked up the rubbish!
    In any event, I don’t believe in passive smoking; and believe that we should partake in private circumstances, that only ever effect other smokers!
    And given my preferred poison is a very occasional cigar, imbibed upwind from other addicts, given, they are just not feeding the horses the way they used to!?

    Comment by Alan B. Goulding — May 23, 2014 @ 3:44 pm

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