Estimated population, aged 18 years and over, who were current smokers and had asthma and/or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 2014–15


Policy context:  Smoking or exposure to smoking is the main cause of COPD and may account for up to 8 out of 10 COPD deaths [1] [2]. Although it is not known of the causes of asthma, evidence has shown a number of risk factors can contribute to the development of asthma such as smoking and other risk factors such as obesity, gender, family history and environmental and lifestyle factors [3].


  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2018. COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) snapshot. Available at:, last accessed 16/04/2019.
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014. Available from:, last accessed 16/04/2019.
  3. Australian Department of Health. Chronic respiratory conditions - including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), 2018. Available from:, last accessed 16/04/2019.

Notes:  In the absence of data from administrative data sets, estimates are provided for certain chronic diseases and conditions from the 2014–15 National Health Survey (NHS), conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Estimates at the PHA level are modelled estimates produced by the ABS, as described below (estimates at the LGA and PHN level were derived from the PHA estimates).

Users of these modelled estimates should note that they do not represent data collected in administrative or other data sets. As such, they should be used with caution, and treated as indicative of the likely social dimensions present in an area with these demographic and socioeconomic characteristics.

The numbers are estimates for an area, not measured events as are, for example, death statistics. As such, they should be viewed as a tool that, when used in conjunction with local area knowledge and taking into consideration the prediction reliability, can provide useful information that can assist with decision making for small geographic regions. Of particular note is that the true value of the published estimates is also likely to vary within a range of values as shown by the upper and lower limits published in the data (xls) and viewable in the bar chart in the single map atlases.

What the modelled estimates do achieve, however, is to summarise the various demographic, socioeconomic and administrative information available for an area in a way that indicates the expected level of each health indicator for an area with those characteristics. In the absence of accurate, localised information about the health indicator, such predictions can usefully contribute to policy and program development, service planning and other decision-making processes that require an indication of the geographic distribution of the health indicator.

The survey response rate of around 85% provides a high level of coverage across the population; however, the response rate among some groups is lower than among other groups, e.g., those living in the most disadvantaged areas have a lower response rate than those living in less disadvantaged areas. Although the sample includes the majority of people living in households in private dwellings, it excludes those living in the most remote areas of Australia; whereas these areas comprise less than 3% of the total population, Aboriginal people comprise up to one third of the population in these areas. This and other limitations of the method mean that estimates have not been published for PHAs with populations under 1,000, or with a high proportion of their population in:

  1. non-private dwellings (hospitals, gaols, nursing homes - and also excludes members of the armed forces);
  2. in Very Remote areas;
  3. in discrete Aboriginal communities; and
  4. where the relative root mean square errors (RRMSEs) on the estimates was 1 or more (estimate replaced with ≠)


  1. Estimates with RRMSEs from 0.25 and to 0.50 have been marked (~) to indicate that they should be used with caution; and those greater than 0.50 but less than 1 are marked (~~) to indicate that the estimate is considered too unreliable for general use.
  2. For the PHN data, differences between the PHN totals and the sum of LGAs within PHNs result from the use of different concordances.

Indicator detail

A current smoker is defined as an adult aged 18 years and over who reported at the time of interview that they smoked manufactured (packet) cigarettes, roll-your-own cigarettes, cigars, and/or pipes at least once per week. It excludes chewing tobacco and smoking of non-tobacco products.

Asthma refers to persons ever told by a doctor or nurse that they have asthma, and whose asthma is current or long term. Whether a person's asthma is current or not was determined by whether they had had any symptoms of asthma or taken treatment for asthma in the last 12 months. A long-term condition is defined as a condition that is current and has lasted, or is expected to last, for 6 months or more.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) refers to persons ever told by a doctor or nurse that they have bronchitis or emphysema; or not diagnosed but who consider their condition to be current and long-term.


Geography: Data available by Population Health Area, Local Government Area, Primary Health Network, Quintiles and Remoteness Areas


Numerator:  Estimated number of people aged 18 years and over with asthma and/or copd as a current, long-term condition who reported being a current, daily or at least once weekly smoker


Denominator:  Population aged 18 years and over


Detail of analysis:  Indirectly age-standardised rate per 100 population (aged 18 years and over); and/or indirectly age-standardised ratio, based on the Australian standard



PHA, LGA & PHN: Compiled by PHIDU based on modelled estimates from the 2014–15 National Health Survey, ABS (unpublished).

Quintiles & Remoteness: Compiled by PHIDU based on direct estimates from the 2014–15 National Health Survey, ABS Survey TableBuilder.


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