Australian Smoking Rate to Beat U.S.’s on Tax: Chart of the Day

Australian Smoking Rate to Beat U.S.’s on Tax
A man smokes a cigarette outside an office building in Sydney. Photographer: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg

Aug. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Australia’s plan to raise excise taxes on cigarettes could reduce its national smoking rate to below that of the U.S., a position it lost last year for the first time since 2004.

The CHART OF THE DAY compares the percentage of adults who smoke in Australia to levels in the world’s five-largest economies. The U.S. rate fell to 18 percent in 2012, below Australia’s 18.1 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. France had the highest rate at 30.5 percent and was the only nation in the group where smoking rose the past decade. Japan declined the most, to 21.1 percent compared with 32.7 percent a decade earlier, the data show.

Among 80 economies tracked by Bloomberg Industries, India had the lowest smoking rate at 6.5 percent, followed by Hong Kong’s 10.2 percent. Georgia and Russia were highest at 46.7 percent and 41.9 percent, respectively.

“We know that increasing excise is the single most effective way for government to reduce premature death and disease due to smoking,” Australian Treasurer Chris Bowen said in a statement Aug. 1. Australia had the 12th largest economy, according to the most-recent global data.

The excise tax measure will increase the average price of cigarettes in Australia to almost A$1 each, or about A$20 ($17.80) per pack of 20. The average price of a pack of cigarettes in the U.S. was $6.10 as of the end of last year, according to data from the Tobacco Merchants Association. Costs and taxes vary among the 50 U.S. states. Minnesota last month raised taxes by about $1.60 per pack, pushing the average price to $7.50, according to a statement by ClearWay Minnesota, a non-profit group that aims to reduce tobacco use.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lee Miller in Bangkok at lmiller@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bruce Grant at bruceg@bloomberg.net