But, do they actually work? Have they helped reduce the number of smokers in the country, or does it just give unscrupulous parties an opportunity to exploit?
Let’s answer “do smoking bans work?” in today’s post.
Setting the Stage for a Smoke-Free Australia
In Australia, you can’t just take out a ciggie and light up anywhere. Laws protect the public from unwanted and unnecessary exposure to cigarette smoke and have recently been expanded to also cover aerosols from nicotine vaping products (NVPs).
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In a nutshell, Australia’s smoking bans require a smoker to only smoke in designated smoking areas in any establishment, school, cinemas, and other public locations.
Let’s explore why these rules and regulations came about in the first place.
Before any smoking bans or restrictions, cigarettes were cheap, heavily advertised and promoted in print and radio, glamorised on the telly, and you could find them being sold and used absolutely everywhere.
But, as you may already know, smoking is a highly addictive product that causes grave harm to both the smoker and people who inhale secondhand smoke.
In the interest of public health, minimising the access young children and teens have buying cigarettes, and to encourage the public to stop smoking, the country made the Smoke Free Act 2000.
You can delve deeper into the restrictions it introduced in this post, but the bottom line is, smokers can’t just light up anywhere they please these days, particularly around schools, children, bus stops, airports, and similar.
Understanding the Health Hazards of Smoking
Smoking is dangerous for everyone, especially the smoker. With each hit, you’re inhaling cadmium used in batteries, aldehydes, arsenic, and other toxic chemicals that can affect your skin, lungs, heart, and every other part of your body.
Many smokers risk their lives with every hit and inhalation. Tobacco smoking is one of the world’s leading causes of preventable diseases. Every year, around 8 million people die prematurely from smoking related illnesses.
Fortunately, the Smoke Free Act 2000, along with other tobacco restrictions and laws imposed on smoking in the recent decades, have been exceptionally fruitful. In 2019, the rate of daily smokers in Australia had significantly dropped, with the trend expected to continue onwards to this date.
So, Did the Smoking Restrictions Do Anything at All?
Do smoking bans work? Let’s check the data while considering that the number of people who are smoking has dropped pretty consistently over the last few decades.
Current data shows that the number of smokers in Australia has become significantly smaller in 2021 compared to the number of daily adult smokers in 1989. The study attributes this effect to the government’s public awareness campaigns, tobacco excise laws, and the smokefree laws we’ve recently discussed.
Furthermore, another study shows that smokefree laws that protect public environments from smoke are highly beneficial to motivated smokers trying to quit.
However, the study also points out that the government can always do better, as many environments still allow for public smoking, and tobacco excise laws are limited in their capacity to encourage current smokers to quit.
Future Directions and Potential Improvements
While the smokefree laws and regulations are one of Australia’s biggest success stories recognised worldwide, they’re far from perfect. There are always areas for improvement.
While smokefree environments support motivated smokers trying to quit, the government may look into improving the help of quit-smoking GPs by reinforcing them with the right tools and resources to reach more smokers trying to quit.
The government has recently taken steps towards banning illegal vaping products in 2024 to avoid another generation of nicotine addiction, particularly among youths, while also helping current adult smokers access pharmacy-sold NVPs with the help of an experienced GP.
The bottom line is, there’s always room to revamp laws and adapt them to the current situation, and the government should always be on the lookout to keep the public safe from the harms of cigarettes and secondhand smoke.
Do smoking bans work? Yes, they do, but their effectiveness only scales when the laws can expand further to protect the public’s health and safety, especially for smokers trying to quit.
Smoking bans may discourage you from smoking, but motivating yourself to quit continuously is another matter – and that’s where we can help.
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 friendly Australian healthcare professionals who excel in helping patients quit smoking for good,