Canberra: A new study has found that patients in the emergency department have significantly higher rates of smoking than the general population. A study undertaken using a sample of almost 340 emergency department patients in Melbourne's St. Vincent's Hospital and the Austin Hospital, reported a smoking prevalence among the adult emergency department patients to be 23.3 per cent, compared to the general Australian population of roughly 15 per cent. Internationally, the prevalence of smoking among emergency department patients is reported to vary between 21 and 41 per cent, Xinhua news agency reported. The Melbourne data revealed that 78 of the emergency department participants reported being current smokers. The average age of those smokers was 42.1 years and 64 per cent were males. At least 41 per cent reported difficulty refraining from smoking, while 69.7 per cent had a desire to quit. Tobacco smoking is the largest preventable cause of death in the world, with one in 10 adult deaths attributed to tobacco.