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2.8 million Australians still smoke

2.8 million Australians still smoke and smoking is a high risk for premature death.

Today, on World No Tobacco Day, Australia’s Health Tracker by Area reports that about 2.8 million Australian adults are current smokers. Research shows that two thirds of people who continue to smoke are likely to die because of their smoking.

Health experts agree that Australia needs ongoing media campaigns to reduce smoking, action to counter tobacco industry strategies and increased support for proven tobacco control programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people with mental illness, and disadvantaged groups.

There are low rates of current smoking in the “leafier” neighbourhoods of Australia, such as 6.6% in the affluent north-shore Sydney suburb of Gordon. But in some low socio-economic communities over 30% of people still smoke, such as Mt Druitt and Tamworth (NSW), Risdon Vale and Bridgewater (Tasmania) and Elizabeth (South Australia).

“Many Australians have quit and stayed quit – we are a world leader in this area of health. But in some Australian towns 1 in 3 or 1 in 4 adults still smoke, placing them at risk of chronic disease and premature mortality. By 2025 we want to drive the numbers down to 5% or less of the population smoking. We have a road map to get Australia to this target.” Rosemary Calder

Professor Mike Daube said: “This is our most preventable epidemic. We know exactly what needs to be done, but the tobacco industry has developed new strategies to keep people smoking, and governments are getting complacent. It is especially disappointing that there has been no national tobacco media campaign for several years, although this year the government expects to get more than $11 billion in tobacco tax revenue. Prevention should be a priority, not an afterthought.”

“Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in Australia. Investing in helping people to quit and deterring kids from starting to smoke is a no-brainer. Prevention is a better approach than spending billions trying to treat diseases that are often, sadly, not treatable.” Dr Sarah White

Further information

Australia’s Health Tracker by Area website.

Available for interview

National data and national policy

  • Rosemary Calder: Director of the Australian Health Policy Collaboration, Victoria University
  • Professor Mike Daube: Curtin University
  • Paul Grogan: Cancer Council Australia.

For comment relevant to particular States or Territories

  • Dr Sarah White: Director of Quit Victoria
  • Penny Egan: CEO of Cancer Council Tasmania.

Media contact and assistance with data

Frances Atkinson, Journalist

Phone: 03 9919 4061, 0435 960 793

Email: frances.atkinson@vu.edu.au.

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