Fewer Australians are smoking daily than ever before and more Australians are giving up alcohol, according to the National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2019 results released on 16 July 2020 by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).


The three-yearly survey of more than 22,000 people aged 14 and over included questions about tobacco use, which is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Australia.

‘Smoking rates have more than halved since 1991 when almost one quarter (24%) of Australians were daily smokers,’ said AIHW spokesperson Dr. Gabrielle Phillips.

‘The daily smoking rate was 12.2% in 2016 and 11% in 2019. More smokers said the cost of smoking was motivating them to quit or cut back—58% in 2019 compared with 52% in 2016.’


Alcohol remains the most commonly used drug in Australia, with about 3 in 4 Australians reporting they consumed alcohol in the previous 12 months. The proportion of people drinking at risky levels on a single occasion (at least monthly) (25%) or at levels that put them at risk of harm over their lifetime (16.8%) has been stable since 2016.

“The proportion of ex-drinkers rose from 7.6% to 8.9% between 2016 and 2019. There was also a rise in the number of people cutting back on alcohol, with 31% of people saying they had reduced the number of alcoholic drinks they consumed at any one time, up from 28% in 2016,’ Dr. Phillips said.

The data in the report predates the COVID-19 pandemic. The AIHW funded and collaborated with the Australian National University on research in May which found that 27% of Australians who consume alcohol reported drinking less since the spread of COVID-19, while 20% reported drinking more.

Age groups

Today’s 14–29 year olds are less likely to smoke, drink alcohol than previous generations.

In 2019, two-thirds of 14–17 year olds had never consumed a full standard drink—more than double the proportion in 2001. In 2019, 22% of 20–29 year olds abstained from alcohol, up from 8.9% in 2001.

Australians in their 40s (15.8%) and 50s (15.9%) were most likely to smoke daily in 2019. Older people were also the most likely to drink alcohol daily in 2019, with the highest proportion seen among people aged over 70 (12.6%).


Download the National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2019 Summary Report here >>>


There is a longer report that contains more detailed information. Click here to download a copy of the chapters relating to:

Smoking >>>

Drinking >>>