The WA Department of Health has published a new report confirming that the cost of treating tobacco caused disease in WA hospitals was $126,673,018 in 2018-19.
In the ten-year period from 2009 to 2019, treating diseases caused by smoking cost Western Australia nearly one billion dollars.
It is over seventy years since conclusive evidence that smoking kills; and each year smoking causes more than 20,000 deaths in Australia, and 1,500 in WA.
“Given both the toll of death and disease and the high cost of smoking to the WA community, now is the time to start a conversation about phasing out the commercial sale of cigarettes”, said Maurice Swanson, Chief Executive, Australian Council on Smoking and Health.
Australia, like many other countries, has consumer product safety laws to ensure that products are safe for intended or reasonably foreseeable use.
“Consumer products found to be hazardous are regularly removed from the market, such as toys that present a choking hazard, defective mobile phones, airbags in cars, and batches of contaminated foods.
“The tobacco industry in WA and Australia as elsewhere is unrelenting in its constant efforts to recruit new smokers, keep existing smokers addicted, and market new addictive products.”
“Why should tobacco companies be given a free pass to continue selling the world’s most lethal consumer product forever?” asked Mr Swanson. He said that ACOSH would like to see a national plan to phase out the commercial sale of cigarettes by 2030.
“In the meantime, while the Federal Government are to be commended for their evidence-based approach to the tobacco industry and novel products, they should not leave the rest of the heavy lifting to the states and health organisations. It is time to re-instate Australia’s world-leading national media campaigns, which have been shelved for nearly a decade, and drive a much stronger comprehensive national program. There is an urgent need for action including: banning all remaining tobacco industry marketing and political donations; major new programs for priority groups; ensuring adequate cessation support for all smokers; regulating tobacco products to reduce appeal and addictiveness; and holding the tobacco industry accountable for healthcare costs.
“By implementing these strategies, the Federal Government would reduce the prevalence of smoking among adults to less than 5% and among teenagers to less than 2%, and enable the phasing out of the commercial sale of cigarettes by 2030.”
“The decline in smoking in Australia has been a remarkable public health success story. But we cannot afford to be complacent. Effective action now will save tens of thousands of lives – and will ensure that the state does not need to pay hundreds of millions of dollars for entirely preventable health care costs,” said Mr Swanson.