Heart Foundation Hails Further Decline in Teenage Smoking
The Heart Foundation has applauded survey findings which found the lowest rate of smoking among teenagers ever recorded in Australia.
Results from the latest Australian School Students Alcohol and Drug Survey shows that only 5 per cent of 12 to 17-year olds were smokers last year, down from 7 per cent in 2011 and 2008.
Cancer Council Victoria have reported 94% of 12-year-olds had no experience with smoking, declining to 78% of 15-year olds and 61% of 17-year-olds.
National Heart Foundation tobacco control spokesperson, Maurice Swanson, said these results are fantastic news for public health in Australia.
“The comprehensive range of strategies implemented over the past 30 years to reduce smoking in Australia means that hundreds of thousands of deaths will be prevented in future years,” said Mr Swanson.
Measures including plain packaging, tax increases, hard hitting television campaigns and restrictions on where people can smoke are all working together to accelerate the decline in young people starting to smoke.
National Heart Foundation CEO, Mary Barry, said the Federal Labor Party’s announcement today of further tobacco tax increases if elected, would help build on this momentum.
“The Heart Foundation is committed to minimising the substantial harm inflicted on our community by smoking,” Ms Barry said.
“Under Labor’s proposal, the tobacco excise, which has been rising by 12.5 per cent a year since 2013 would continue to rise another four times each year until 2020.”
Ms Barry said contrary to some views, the proposed tax increases would actually be of most benefit to lower-income Australians.
“Further reducing demand for tobacco products means more money in the pockets of lower-income Australians at the expense of an addictive and often, deadly habit,” she said.
“We know these policies work, with no less an authority than the World Health Organisation (WHO) saying that the most effective approach to controlling the spread of tobacco use is through policies that directly reduce the demand for it.”
Smoking is a major cause of heart attack, stroke and peripheral vascular disease and is the largest single preventable cause of death in Australia, killing over 15,000 Australians a year or more than 40 people every single day.
Ms Barry said two thirds of people who smoke regularly will eventually be killed by their smoking habit, with many of these deaths occurring in middle age.
“With smoking being a major contributor to premature death in this country the more deterrents people have between them and smoking, the better,” she said.
There is no safe level of tobacco use, smoking is highly addictive and difficult to give up but every day without cigarettes is greatly benefiting your heart and health.”
Smokers can call the Quitline on 13 78 48, visit www.icanquit.com.au or speak to their GP or medial practitioner about how they can stop smoking before it is too late.