May 2009


Rural smokers

A prevention opportunity

Volume 38, No.5, May 2009 Pages 352-356

Anna Chapman

Stephen Bunker

James Dunbar

Kevin McNamara

Andrew Baird

Benjamin Philpot

Erkki Vartiainen

Tiina Laatikainen

Edward Janus


Smoking is the largest single cause of preventable death and disease in Australia. This study describes smoking prevalence and the characteristics of rural smokers to guide general practitioners in targeting particular groups.


Cross sectional surveys in the Greater Green Triangle region of southeast Australia using a random population sample (n=1563, participation rate 48.7%) aged 25–74 years. Smoking information was assessed by a self administered questionnaire.


Complete smoking data were available for 1494 participants. Overall age adjusted current smoking prevalence was 14.9% (95% CI: 13.1–16.7). In both genders, current smoking prevalence decreased with age. Those aged 25–44 years were more likely to want to stop smoking and to have attempted cessation, but less likely to have received cessation advice than older smokers.


This study provides baseline smoking data for rural health monitoring and identifies intervention opportunities. General practice is suited to implement interventions for smoking prevention and cessation at every patient encounter, particularly in younger individuals.

Tobacco smoking, a major risk factor for coronary heart disease, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, cancer and other diseases,1 is estimated to cost the Australian community $31.5 billion per annum,2 and was responsible for more than 15 500 Australian deaths in 2003.3

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