Smoking remains the leading cause of illness, disability, and premature death in Australia today.
Smoking is responsible for 9.3% of disease burden in Australia, making it the leading risk factor for illness. It is estimated that 15,000 people die each year in Australia due to smoking-related disease.
Tobacco use also significantly impacts the environment and the economy, and these impacts lead to social inequalities.
There have been a wide range of strategies, campaigns, and programs put in place to reduce smoking prevalence, which have proven to be very successful as the smoking rate continues to decline across Australia.
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Below, we’ll take a look at the community strategies to stop smoking and share the resources that can help you on your road to quitting.
Nationwide Strategies to Stop Smoking
In Australia, smoking rates have been steadily declining since the mid ‘90s.
The community strategies encouraging smoking cessatio, and preventing smoking uptake in the first place, are largely responsible for this downward trend.
Let’s explore what these community strategies entail and how they are designed to help you kick the habit.
National Tobacco Strategy
Australia’s National Tobacco Strategy is the most comprehensive, wide-reaching community strategy that aims to improve the health of all Australians by reducing tobacco use.
The government are currently working with the Australian community and public health experts are to develop an updated strategy for 2022 to 2030. The 2012 to 2018 strategy remains in place until the draft is finalised.
The National Tobacco Strategy introduced measures such as plain packaging laws, graphic public health warnings, and restrictions on internet advertisements for tobacco, in order to achieve the overall goal of reducing tobacco use to 10% by 2018.
Main priority areas of the National Strategy include:
- Preventing the tobacco industry from interfering with public health policy and tobacco control policies.
- Strengthening media campaigns to: motivate current smokers to quit and encourage recent quitters to stay smoke-free; discourage the uptake of smoking; and change social norms about smoking.
- Reduce the affordibility of all tobacco products.
- Build on programs and partnerships that work to reduce smoking rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
- Increase the efforts to reduce smoking rates among high-prevalence groups.
- Eliminate all remaining advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products.
- Consider additional regulation of the supply of tobacco products and alternative nicotine products.
- Reduce exceptions to smoke-free workplaces, public places and other settings.
- Offer better access to a range ofcessation services to support smokers on their road to quitting.
Tobacco Control Strategies
The Tobacco Control plan outlines the real-life, tangible strategies used to help people quit smoking, and stay smoke-free long term.
There are six key pillars to the tobacco control strategy.
Strategy 1: Plain Packaging
Under the national plain packaging laws, all tobacco product packaging must:
- Be packaged in a certain colour
- Display the brand name in a particular way
- Display the required health warnings
- Not display logos, brand images, or promotional text
But does the plain packaging strategy work in the community?
Research has shown that the plain packaging strategy has been instrumental in reducing smoking rates.
A 2016 review of plain packaging found it helped to reduce smoking rates in Australia by reducing the appeal of tobacco products, making health warnings more effective, and removing misleading information from tobacco products.
Strategy 2: Graphic Public Health Warnings
Most Australians will be familiar with these health warnings.
They appear on TV and on cigarette boxes, depicting the graphic and confronting realities and consequences of smoking.
The graphic public health warnings must cover most of the packaging, include certain graphics and text, and be formatted in a certain way.
They are designed to send a confronting message about the harmful effects of tobacco and encourage smokers to quit every time they go to pick up a cigarette.
Several studies have shown that graphic warnings are very effective in deterring people from smoking in the first place, as well as helping people quit.
Strategy 3: Ban Tobacco Advertisements and Promotional Materials
Research has shown that tobacco advertisements are linked to increased tobacco use.
Under the Tobacco Control program, tobacco ads or promotional materials are banned Australia-wide.
Banning this content has been proven to reduce smoking rates by reducing the desireability of smoking.
Strategy 4: Reducing the Affordibility of Tobacco
As of 2022, a pack of 20 cigarettes costs around $40.
Cigarette prices, and the price of all tobacco products, have been on the rise for several years.
In 1983, the rate of tax on tobacco products was linked to the Australian Consumer Price Index, meaning the taxes on tobacco products would automatically rise twice each year.
In addition to this biannual price increase, the government has implemented extra ad hoc tax increases over the years.
2010 saw 25% increase on cigarette taxes. In 2013, it was decided that there would be a 12.5% tax increase each year for the following eight years (until 2020) in addition to the biannual CPI tax increase.
Once adjusted for inflation, we can see that the cost of a leading cigarette brand was 8.5 times higher in 2021 than it was in 1940.
These taxes are considered a major driving force for the declining smoking rate, therefore the government plans to continue to reduce the affordability of tobacco products from 2022 to 2030.
By 2030, a 30 pack of cigarettes is projected to cost $100.
Strategy 5: Preventing Illicit Tobacco Trade
Illicit tobacco trade deprives the Australian community of funding that can be used for essential community services.
Preventing illicit tobacco trade in Australia is an important strategy to reduce smoking rates among communities, and to ensure funding is serving the community positively.
The government are preventing illicit trade by gathering intelligence, conducting investigations, seizing and destroying crops, fining and prosecuting offenders.
Strategy 6: Joining the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
Australia have been a part of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control since 2003.
The convention provides a framework for countries to cooperate on tobacco-related policies and aims to protect people from the health, environmental, economic and social effects of tobacco.
There are a number of tangible actions Australia must take under the convention, including run education and awareness campaigns, making laws on the content of tobacco products, and supporting international tobacco measures.
Campaigns are a key strategy used to prevent smoking within the Australian community.
The National Tobacco Campaign is the overarching strategy that has been implemented to reduce smoking rates.
The sub-campaigns, Don’t Make Smokes Your Story and Tackling Indigenous Smoking, have been introduced to reduce smoking among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
National Tobacco Campaign
The National Tobacco Campaign is one of the Health department’s longest-running public health campaigns.
It was first launched in June 1997 with the central aim of reducing smoking rates in Australia.
Within just five years of the campaign being implemented, smoking rates among addults declined by 3.75.
The goals of the campaign include
- Discouraging people from smoking
- Helping people stop smoking
- Outlining strong tobacco control policies
- Changing community attitudes about smoking.
The campaign achieves these goals through
- TV and social media ads
- Educational apps
- Online and print resources available in different languages
- Partnerships with mental health organisations such as SANE Australia
- Resource kits for prisons
- Targeted campaigns and programs for pregnant women
- Targeted campaigns and programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
Tackling Indigenous Smoking
This long-term campaign helps to reduce smoking rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
It is an extremely important community strategy, as tobacco smoking is the most preventable cause of ill health and early death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Tobacco use is responsible for 23% of gap in health burden between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
The campaign involves
- Helping Quitline provide accessible and culturally appropriate services
- The Quitskills training program for frontline community and healthcare workers
- Activities that support priority groups
- Regular evaluations
- Research to assess the outcomes
A number of groups collaborate on developing this community strategy, including the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, culturally-appropriate support services, evaluation experts, and organisations with experience in community development.
Don’t Make Smokes Your Story
This campaign that ran from 206 to 2018 focused on reducing smoking rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The campaign was extremely successful in making smokers more likely to quit, and making smokers feel more empowered to quit.
Communities and Groups
There are a number of groups and communities set up to help you on your road to quitting.
National Resources and Support Groups
These national support communities are designed to provide you with information, support, tools and strategies to help you quit and keep you smoke-free.
- Quitline or Aboriginal Quitline (which is staffed by Aboriginal Councellors) are confidential, evidence-based telephone councelling services that deliver behavioural interventions to help you stop smoking.
- Smoke Free Clinic. At Smoke Free Clinic, we provide accurate information to help you on your journey to quitting. We put you in touch with specialist-trained GP’s via 100% cost-free, bulk-billed telehealth consultations. These GP’s can prescribe you with Nicotine Vaping Products (NVP) which help you quit smoking, and provide advice, tools, and strategies to curb the habit for good.
- iCanQuit is a free online community that can provide you with support and understanding on your quitting journey.
- Smoking (NT)
- Help to quit (ACT)
- Icanquit (NSW)
- Quit Victoria (VIC)
- Be smoke free (SA)
- Make smoking history (WA)
- Quit Tasmania (TAS)
- Quit HQ (QLD)
Subsidised Smoking Cessation Tools
A key strategy used to help reduce smoking rates is the subsidisation of Nicotine Replacement Therapies.
Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRTs) are designed to help smokers quit and reduce the intensity of the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that often cause relapse.
NRTs release nicotine into the body without the other toxic chemicals found in tobacco. They have been proven to be extremely effective in aiding smoking cessation.
All forms of NRT therapy can increase the odds of quitting smoking by 50-60%.
Research has shown that combining a nicotine patch with another form of NRT, such as nicotine gum, increases the quit rate by 5% compared to just one form of NRT.
NRT products include:
- Transdermal patch
- Sublingual tablet
- Oral ingaler
- Nasal spray
NRTs have been subsidised by the government, making them more accessible to smokers who may be struggling to quit due to nicotine withdrawal and cravings.
From tobacco control strategies to nationwide campaigns and support groups, there are a number of community strategies that can help you stop smoking.
These strategies have been proven to reduce smoking prevalence among Australians and prevent the harmful health, social, environmental, and economic implications of tobacco use.
We are committed to helping you on your road to quitting, whether you’re looking for accurate, evidence-based information or a free consultation with a specialist-trained GP.
Smokefree Clinic gives you access to many medically reviewed and trustworthy resources that can inform and aid you in your path to wellness, so have a look around!
If you’re ready to get started, Smokefree can connect you to bulk-billing Australian healthcare professionals who excel in helping patients quit smoking for good, including using responsible vaping products where appropriate.
Click here to book your bulk-billed telehealth consultation with an Australian healthcare professional and quit smoking today.