Tobacco smoking is the single most important preventable cause of ill health and death in Australia. Tobacco smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals, of which over 70 cause cancer.
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Tobacco use is the leading risk factor contributing to burden of disease in Australia (8.6% of total burden . Exposure to tobacco smoke (second-hand smoking) also causes numerous health conditions among adults and children , and smoking (first or second hand) during pregnancy can affect the health of both mother and baby .
Strategies to minimise the harm caused by tobacco smoking have been in place for decades. These have included:
- advertising bans
- plain packaging
- price increases
- restrictions on sales to minors
- strengthening of smoke-free laws in most states and territories to capture e-cigarettes and to cover a wider range of indoor and outdoor settings
- smoking cessation medications available through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS
- media campaigns .
Australia has been successful in reducing smoking prevalence over many years through the use of such strategies. Fewer people are smoking daily and more people have never smoked compared with 20 years ago .
The National Tobacco Strategy 2023–2030 complements the actions and targets in the National Preventive Health Strategy and aims to improve the health of all Australians by reducing tobacco use and the associated health, social and economic costs .
Tobacco control is also a key component of the Australian Government’s 10-year National Preventive Health Strategy, which outlines the following tobacco use targets:
- reduce daily smoking rates to below 10 per cent by 2025 and 5 per cent or less for adults (≥18 years) by 2030; and
- reduce the daily smoking rate among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (≥15 years) to 27 per cent or less by 2030.
The National Preventive Health Strategy includes a range of policy achievements that aim to reduce tobacco use and nicotine addiction. The four overarching aims of the National Preventive Health Strategy are:
- All Australians have the best start in life
- All Australians live in good health and wellbeing for as long as possible
- Health equity is achieved for priority populations
- Investment in prevention is increased
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2021) Australian Burden of Disease Study 2018: Interactive data on risk factor burden, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 06 June 2023.
- Department of Health and Aged Care (2023) About passive smoking, DHAC, Australian Government, accessed 06 June 2023.
- Department of Health and Aged Care (2023) Smoking and tobacco and pregnancy, DHAC, Australian Government, accessed 06 June 2023.
- Department of Health and Aged Care 2023. National Tobacco Strategy 2023-–2030, DHAC, Australian Government accessed 6 June 2023.
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2020) National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2019, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 06 June 2023. doi:10.25816/e42p-a447
- Department of Health 2021. National Preventive Health Strategy 2021-2030. Department of Health website, viewed 4 August 2022.
Tobacco smoking is the leading cause of preventable health burden in Australia
Over the past 50 years, levels of apparent consumption of different alcoholic beverages changed substantially
Cannabis is the most widely used illicit drug in Australia
In 2019, 11.0% of Australians smoked tobacco daily, down from 12.2% in 2016 and 24% in 1991.
Between 2016 and 2019, the proportion of people who had ever used e-cigarettes rose from 8.8% to 11.3%.
Between 2016 and 2019, the proportion of ex-drinkers rose from 7.6% to 8.9%.