Leading health organisation calls for the reintroduction of major national TV-led public education campaign

25 July 2019

The Australian Council on Smoking and Health strongly supports a call made by the Australian Medical Association at yesterday’s National Press Club for the Federal Government to reinstate the National Tobacco Campaign.

“Today’s Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Report[1] again has confirmed that smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in Australia,” said Maurice Swanson, Chief Executive of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health.

“The Federal Government has not conducted a national tv-led public education campaign on smoking since 2013.

“This is despite the Federal Government receiving billions in tobacco tax, projected to be $17 billion in 2019-20.

“We know that hard-hitting television advertisements that graphically portray the health consequences of smoking encourage smokers to make quit attempts, and over time this drives down rates of smoking across the community.

“Health Minister Greg Hunt in the run up to the recent Federal election announced that $20 million would be allocated to a National Tobacco Campaign, but this falls well short of what is required – $40 million a year for a sustained campaign.

“A commitment of $40 million a year for the campaign would only be 0.24 per cent of what will be collected from tobacco tax this year,” said Mr Swanson.

The other missing ingredient of Australia’s comprehensive approach to reducing smoking is providing evidence-based support for smokers to quit through all healthcare services.

“Two-thirds of current smokers in Australia are likely to be killed by their smoking.

“We need to ensure that the provision of brief advice to quit is embedded as part of routine care in our health services and hospitals.

“Every patient should have access to a best practice model of care, including access to the Quitline 13 7848, and appropriate nicotine replacement therapy,” said Mr Swanson.

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  • Smoking kills 7 million people globally each year.
  • Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Australia, causing 19,000 premature deaths each year.
  • There are still 2.7 million Australians smoking, and two thirds of them will die prematurely from their smoking.

Maurice Swanson, ACOSH Chief Executive, 0401 090 915