Who smokes cigarettes the most?


For women aged 25 to 29, the decrease was as much as 13 percentage points. While every third woman in this age group smoked in 2014, it was only one in five in 2019. Up to the age of 60, there was also a decline in the proportion of smokers in the other age groups compared to 2014; this was the case for both women and men.

Start of smoking by those who smoke daily

An important criterion for the manifestation of smoking habits is the age at which smoking is started. The start of daily smoking was asked retrospectively: "At what age did you start to smoke every day?"

Only a few men (4.3%) and women (5.2%) started smoking in childhood (up to 13 years of age). About a quarter of the daily smokers started their smoking career before the age of 15. More than half of women and around two thirds of men started smoking habitually by the age of 17. In women who were 45 years of age and older at the time of the survey, the onset of daily smoking occurred somewhat later than in men of the same age; the gender-specific differences increased with increasing age.

Cigarette consumption

On average, men smoked more cigarettes per day than women (men: 17.1 pieces, women: 13.3 pieces). 15.8% of the men and 5.5% of the women were heavy smokers (21 cigarettes and more). The proportion of heavy smokers was highest among men aged 45 to 59 years (25.1%). Women in all age groups were less likely to be heavy smokers.

Currently, on average, fewer cigarettes are smoked than in previous years (results 2006/07 and 2014, men: 18.5 and 17.3 pieces, women: 14.3 and 13.6 pieces). The proportion of heavy smokers also fell. While a fifth of all men who smoke daily smoked more than 20 cigarettes a day in 2006/07, the proportion of heavy smokers was 17.3% in 2014 and fell to 15.8% in 2019. Among women, the proportion of heavy smokers fell from 8.3% in 2006/07 to 5.6% in 2014 and finally to 5.5% in 2019.


In 2019 there were around two million people aged 15 and over in Austria who used to smoke every day (men: 32.5%, women: 23.7%, Table 9). However, this number depends on the number of current or previous smokers. This is why the so-called quitt rate, which the ex-smokers relate to the population who (so far) smokes daily, is more meaningful. Women have smoked less frequently than men in the last few decades, which is why the proportion of ex-smokers in the population is much lower than that of men. The quitt rates for men and women, on the other hand, are similarly high.

Of all people who had ever smoked on a daily basis, more than half stopped (men: 58.0%, women: 57.1%). The proportion of those who quit smoking increased with age. Around 12% of the former daily smokers stated that they now smoke occasionally. The 15 to 29 year olds most frequently changed their smoking behavior from daily to occasional (men: 29.8%, women: 23.7%).

A good third of the daily smoking population wanted to quit smoking in the past year, but did not manage to do it (men: 37.0%, women: 35.6%).

Passive smoking

Tobacco smoke not only endangers smokers themselves, but also the people who are exposed to tobacco smoke. Here one speaks of passive smoke exposure or secondhand smoke. Nowadays there is no longer any doubt about the negative consequences of passive smoking. The health survey asked how often one was exposed to tobacco smoke indoors.

Slightly more than a quarter of the non-smoking population was exposed to tobacco smoke indoors at least occasionally (Figure 19). Women were affected less often than men (21.3% and 33.6%, respectively). Exposure was highest in young adults between the ages of 15 and 29, but a large proportion of the population was regularly exposed to tobacco smoke even in middle adulthood. Only from the age of 60 did the exposure to passive smoke gradually decrease.

6.8% of non-smokers and 5.3% of non-smokers were even exposed to passive smoke on a daily basis. Another 11.5% of non-smokers and 4.7% of non-smokers were exposed at least once a week. 15.4% of the men and 11.3% of the women who did not smoke themselves were exposed to tobacco smoke less than once a week.

Consumption of electronic smoking products

In addition to smoking tobacco products, the health survey also asked for the first time about the consumption of e-cigarettes or similar electronic products.

Men reported almost twice as often as women that they had already consumed e-cigarettes or similar products (men: 9.3%, women: 5.1%). However, only 1.0% of men and 0.4% of women reported daily consumption of these products, and 2.2% (men) and 1.5% (women) of current occasional consumption. Young men most frequently stated that they had consumed e-cigarettes every day or occasionally or earlier (5.1% and 11.2%, respectively).

© STATISTICS AUSTRIA, last change on December 9th, 2020