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New report on smoking rates reveal less Victorians lighting up

Thursday 14 February, 2008

Smoking rates in Victoria have dropped by almost 20% in the last ten years, according to research released today by The Cancer Council Victoria.

The new report shows that less than 1 in 5 Victorians are now regular smokers with rates having dropped from 21.3% in 1998, to 17.3% in 2007.

According to the research:

  • There is no significant difference between the proportion of men who are regular smokers (18.6%) compared to women (16.1%).
  • Those aged 18-29 years and 30-49 years are more likely to regularly smoke than those aged 50 years or more (18.6% and 21.8% compared with 11.9%, respectively)

Professor Melanie Wakefield, from The Cancer Council Victoria, said the current trends in Victorian smoking rates have occurred during a ten year period of considerable tobacco control activity and reform.

"Over the past decade, Victoria has experienced a rise in smokefree environments, exposure to regular quit smoking mass media campaigns and the introduction of graphic health warnings on cigarette packs."

"This tobacco control activity has been mirrored by a gradual decline in smoking rates over the last ten years in Victoria, and if we are to continue the downward trend in smoking prevalence we must also sustain population-wide interventions."

Executive Director of Quit, Ms Fiona Sharkie, said that it was vital not to misinterpret the fall in smoking rates as a sign that tobacco use is no longer a major health problem in Victoria.

"Although impressive inroads have been made to curb the toll of tobacco in Victoria, it is still the preventable health risk responsible for the greatest burden of disease. Nearly 4000 Victorians die as a result of tobacco use every year, so getting smoking rates down remains a public health priority."

Ms Sharkie said a multi-level approach should be adopted to tackle the devastating toll of tobacco in the community.

"Implementing price increases on tobacco, maintaining sufficient levels of funding for long term mass media campaigns, and adopting further restrictions on tobacco promotion including the removal of point-of-sale cigarette displays from the retail environment are the key ingredients in continuing to drive down smoking rates in Victoria."

Ms Fiona Sharkie is available for comment on 03 9635 5522 or 0437 347 007

Professor Melanie Wakefield is available for comment. To organise an interview please call Edwina Pearse on 03 9635 5400 or 0417 303 811