Tobacco contributes to more drug-related hospitalisations and deaths than alcohol and illicit drug use combined in Australia. However, according to the 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) tobacco use had been on a long-term downward trend, for the first time in over two decades.

Smoking is a key risk factor for the three diseases that cause most deaths in Australia: ischaemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and lung cancer. It is responsible for around 80% of all lung cancer deaths and 20% of all cancer deaths (smoking has been linked to cancers of the mouth, bladder, kidney, stomach and cervix, among others). Smokers are also at increased risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and reduced lung function and smoking in pregnancy increases the risk of health problems for both mother and child.

Tobacco use has been linked to a variety of other conditions, such as diabetes, peptic ulcers, some vision problems, and back pain.