If you smoke, you may be increasing your risk of dementia 

Smoking has now been shown to be a risk factor for dementia.  Some studies have also shown that a history of passive smoking may also increase dementia risk.

So if you smoke, we recommend that you try to quit.  If you don’t smoke, try to avoid the tobacco smoke of others.

What is the evidence that smoking increases dementia risk?

Research studies consistently show that those who smoke have, on average, a higher risk of developing dementia compared to non-smokers.

A review of the research concluded that smokers have nearly an 80% higher dementia risk (Anstey KJ, et al. Smoking as a risk factor for dementia and cognitive decline: a meta-analysis of prospective studies. Am J Epidemiol, 2007, 166:367-378).

The review also concluded that former smokers do not have an increased risk of dementia compared to those who have never smoked.  So there is evidence that quitting can bring down the increase in the risk of dementia associated with smoking.

Evidence rating for smoking  

Many observational studies have shown that smoking increases dementia risk and the association has also been established in meta-analyses combining results from several studies.

What is lacking is proof that smoking cessation will reduce dementia risk. However, this seems likely as former smokers do not show an increased risk of dementia, only current smokers do.

The time it takes a former smoker to return to the level of risk of a never smoker has not been determined.

Need advice on how to quit smoking?

Your General Practitioner can provide assistance to help you quit.  They can write you a 'stop smoking prescription' with an individual plan to help you deal with all the issues.  They can prescribe nicotine replacement or medication if needed.  They can refer you to a Quit program or other professional support.

Quitline (13 7848) is a confidential telephone service providing information, support and advice for quitting.  It is just the cost of a local call no matter where you are calling from in Australia (mobile phones excepted).  Trained advisors are available 8 am to 8 pm Monday to Friday.

The National Tobacco Campaign website provides information and resources to help you quit smoking.

The Quit Victoria website provides access to an online Quit Coach, a 4 step guide to quitting, information about attending Quit courses, and a free Quit Pack that you can order.

The Quit SA website provides resources to help you quit smoking, including a free Quit Pack, and information for schools, health professionals and workplaces on what they can do to help reduce smoking in the community.

The Quit Tasmania website provides resources for quitting, information on programs and campaigns and resources for young people.



Call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500 for questions, information, advice.


Your Brain Matters was supported by funding from the Australian Government under the Chronic Disease Prevention and Service Improvement Fund from July 2012 to June 2015.



Dementia Australia would like to acknowledge the Aboriginal people as the traditional custodians and carers of the country of Australia.