New data showing a record fall in smoking rates confirms that Australia is on track to achieve major reductions in smoking-related diseases, Cancer Council Australia said today (July 16th, 2014).
Chair of the joint Cancer Council/Heart Foundation Tobacco Issues Committee, Kylie Lindorff, said the new data, published today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, showed that only 12.8% of Australians aged 14 and over smoked daily in 2013.
The new data says that the proportion of Australians who smoke has dropped by 15% since 2010.
"These figures are a triumph of evidence-based public health policy, especially when you compare them with data from previous generations," Ms Lindorff said. "In the 1960s, more than half of all Australian men were smokers and nearly a third of women. Even in the mid-1990s, smoking rates were around double what they are now.
"This result is a tribute to successive Australian governments and to non-government health organisations that we have been able to reduce the proportion of smokers so dramatically with effective policies."
Ms Lindorff said the tobacco industry had opposed every public health reform introduced to reduce smoking rates, with bogus claims that the measures would not work.
"Opposition from the tobacco industry is normally an indication that comprehensive policy approaches, such as increasing excise, hard-hitting media campaigns, advertising restrictions and smoke-free public areas would work."
Ms Lindorff said the tobacco industry's ongoing attacks on plain packaging, a key reform during the reporting period, was a continuation of its attempts to sabotage evidence-based health policies.
"Reduced smoking take-up among younger age groups comprises a large proportion of the latest overall reductions in smoking rates," she said. "This shows the change in culture that comes from comprehensive policy approaches is working."
She said that although the figures were welcome news, more than 2.4 million Australians continued to smoke daily, increasing their risk of developing 15 cancer types caused by smoking, cardiovascular disease and other potentially fatal conditions.
"We still have a lot to do before smoking is no longer the main preventable cause of cancer death in Australia, but these figures confirm we are continuing to head in the right direction."