The age of the tobacco industry in Australia is approaching 70 years.
This means that Australia’s tobacco consumption has risen from a low of 5.5 billion cigarettes smoked in 1974 to a high of nearly 60 billion in 2017, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
But the Australian Tobacco Association, which represents Australian cigarette manufacturers, says it expects the market to shrink from 20 million to 12 million smokers in the next few years.
Tobacco’s share of the population is also expected to shrink, from nearly 7 per cent of Australia’s population in 2017 to less than 3 per cent in 2025, according the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Tobacco products are now used by more than half of Australians aged 15 to 24 and 50 per cent by Australians aged 65 and over, according a survey from the Australian Council of Social Service.
The industry is also growing in the United States, where sales grew 12.7 per cent to $1.4 billion in 2016, according TOI.
It’s an industry that has seen a rapid growth in the past 30 years, said Phillip Murnane, chief executive of the Australian Cancer Council.
“The tobacco industry is the largest single industry in the world and we’ve got a big global market and they’re coming into the market with a big head start,” Mr Murnanes said.
But there are risks for the industry, as governments around the world are increasing regulations on tobacco products and increasing taxation on them.
The Australian Tax Office says there is a lack of clarity in the taxation regime for tobacco products, and that it may increase the price of cigarettes to reflect the tax rates paid by smokers.
Australia’s government is also reviewing tobacco legislation in order to better understand the potential impact on the industry.
“If we are going to reduce the number of smokers in Australia, the most effective way to do that is to change the tax regime,” Health Minister Greg Hunt said last year.
Mr Hunt said that while he was “encouraged” by the tobacco tax review, it was a “huge” challenge.
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