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Survey on smoking attitudes

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A survey to determine the attitudes of Australians to smoking has shown

that just over one third of those interviewed were smokers and that of these,

nearly half would like to give it up.

The Roy Morgan Research Centre Pty. Ltd. (which conducts Gallup Polls in

Australia) carried out the poll in all States in August as a prelude to the

National Smoking Campaign, which is due to begin on September 17·

The results were reported to the Advisory Committee for Smoking Education

last week and were released by the Acting Minister for Health, Dr A.J.

Forbes today.

Dr Forbes said that the results of the poll would help in the evaluation

of the national campaign. They would be useful as one yardstick against which

possible future changes in attitudes can be measured.

Over 2,000 people were interviewed in the poll. Of the people interviewed,

eight out of ten recognised that smoking is a health hazard. Among smokers,

seven out of ten agreed with this.

Almost half of the smokers interviewed would now like to give up smoking,

but only six in every 100 of those interviewed had been successful in doing so

in the past year. The people who most wanted to give it up were heavy smokers.

Over seven out of ten smokers felt that if people wanted to stop smoking, they

should be given help.

Dr Forbes said the poll showed that those interviewed were overwhelmingly

of the opinion that it matters whether children start smoking.

More than eight out of ten smoking parents expressed this view and nearly

nine out of ten non-smoking parents agreed.

Commenting on the results of the poll, Dr Forbes said that it had indicated

the need for the nation-wide smoking education campaign which was about to get

under way. . ■ '

He said that this was shown by the fact that a high proportion of people

thought that help should be given to people who wanted to stop smoking, and that

half of the smokers interviewed had said they wanted to give it up.



. Dr Forbes said that the poll had shown that of those people who smoked

half admitted to smoking 20 or more " cigarettes a day.

This was regrettable in the light of world-wide medical ppinion that

regular smoking of this magnitude could shorten the life of a smoker by

several years.

A fuller summary of the poll is attached. .

Canberra, September 5» 1972. Dept, No. 95



The questions asked in the poll, for which a 2,144 person sample was used,


o In which of'the ways listed have you, yourself, ever

. Smoked at any time of your life? Any others?

(The ways listed were* Factory-made cigarettes

Roll-your-own cigarettes


Small cigars

Large cigars

. None.)

. In which of those ways have you smoked in the last 12 months -

that is since the beginning of August last year?

. At what age did you first smoke?

, Thinking of yesterday - if you tried to add it up precisely - ,

how many cigarettes of all brands did you smoke yesterday,

altogether? (I mean the number of cigarettes you smoked

yesterday - not the number of packets). IF CAN'T SAY* Just

your best guess.

. Would you now like to give up smoking?

e Have you ever tried to give up smoking?

. If you answered YES for the last question or NONE to the .

question on ways you have smoked in the last 12 months*

. Which of the factors listed did you find difficult when you

tried to give up smoking?

(The factors listed were* . Friends persuade me;

TV advertisements;

Difficult when others smoked;

Difficult to pass tobacconist/machine;

. Didn't have way of relieving tension;

Nothing else to suck or chew;

Print unlisted.) ·

o In your opinion, is smoking a health hazard?

(Answer choice* Yes; No; Can't say).

. Does it matter whether children start smoking?

(Answer choice* Yes; No; Can't say).

. If people want to stop smoking, should they be given help?

(Answer choice * Yes; No; Can't say)c


The results were analysed according tos

The totals for* Australia?

State capital cities?

Outside State capital cities?

. States?

The State's capital city?

Outside the State's capital city.

Occupational groupings* Professional, managers?

Farm owners? .


Age groups *


Work rates*

Person with a child?

Person with no child.



Starting age*

Each result was analysed firstly i

thirdly as non-smokers and fourthly by

Clerk, white collar worker?

Skilled tradesmen?

Semi-skilled, unskilled,


Income - Upper?


16-29? .

30-49? ·

50 and over.

Australian-born or pre-war immigrant ?

Post-war British immigrant ?

Post-war non-British immigrant.



Don't work.

Up to 4 cigarettes daily;

5-9? .




25 and over,

under 10 years?



20 and over.

s all respondents, secondly as smokers,

types of tobacco smoked.




Asked whether they had smoked at any time in their lives, 64.8 per cent of

respondents said they had and 35·2 per cent had not. The percentage of those

who had smoked was higher for men than women* 79*4 per cent of men had smoked

compared with 50*1 per cent of women. On which ways they had ever smoked, 61.3

per cent of respondents said factory-made cigarettes, 31·9 per cent roll-your-

own cigarettes, 21.1 per cent a pipe, 20.5per cent small cigars and 16.1 per

cent large cigars. .

Replying to whether they had smoked in the last 12 months, 44*2 per cent

said they had and 55*2 per cent had not, and 6.3 per cent had given up smoking

in that period, leaving 37·9 per cent still smoking. On ways they had smoked

in the last 12 months, 39®3 per cent said they had smoked factory-made

cigarettes, 12.2 per cent roll-your-own cigarettes, 7·1 per cent a pipe, 9 per

cent small cigars, and 5*6 per cent large cigars.

Asked at what age they had first smoked, 2.5 per cent said under 10 years,

8.7 per cent said before.13, 34·9 per cent from 13 to 18, 10.8 per cent from

19 to 23, 5·3 per cent at 24 and over, and 5·1 per cent could not remember.

Of the present smokers, 51«3 per cent had smoked 20 or more cigarettes

on the day before they were interviewed. The breakdown in numbers shows* .

1-4 cigarettes 7.5

5-9 8.1

10-14 12.1

15-19 11.0

20 24.7

21-24 1.0

25-29 , 6.5

30 and over 19.1

None 10.0

Asked whether they would now like to give up smoking, 46.8 per cent

of the smokers said yes, 45®1 per cent said no, and 8.1 per cent said "can't say",

Sixty-one per cent of the smokers had tried to give up smoking and 39 per

cent had. not. Questioned about the difficulties they had had in trying to give

up smoking, the smokers listed their difficulties in the following ways*

Friends persuade me 5®2

TV advertisements 4.1

When others smoked 24.1

Pass machine/tobacconist 1.2

Relieve tension 19-9

Nothing to suck or chew 7-8

. ' • o/4

• 4 ·

Other answer

Can't say



Of all respondents, 80.4 per cent said that in their opinion smoking

is a health hazard, 13 per cent said it is not, and 6.5 per cent said they

can't say. Of the smokers, 72.1 per cent said it is a health hazard, 22.5

per cent said it is not, and 5*4 per cent could not say. The corresponding

percentages for the non-smokers were: 85.5, 7.3» 7.2

Asked whether it mattered whether children start smoking, 84.2 per cent

of all respondents said it does, 10.9 per cent said it does not, and 4.8 per

cent said they can't say.

If people want to give up smpking, they should he given help, according

to 75*9 per,cent of all respondents, hut 15.3 per cent disagree and 8.7 per

cent can't say.