New data, from The Cancer Council Victoria, has revealed that every week 4 Victorians lose a parent under the age of 50 to a smoking-caused illness. The data shows that over 3,000 Victorian parents die each year from a smoking-caused illness - leaving behind almost 10,500 sons and daughters.
The alarming data has been released on the same day Quit launches a new TV campaign targeting parents who smoke, and encouraging them to consider the potential impact of their loss on their children. View Quit's new Separation TV advertisement.
Quit Victoria's Executive Director, Ms Fiona Sharkie said despite being devoid of graphic images of disease-ridden bodies the new campaign, airing from Sunday night, would still pack a huge emotional punch.
"This new campaign depicts very powerfully the personal and emotional impact that smoking-caused illnesses have on the lives of smokers' families, particularly their children."
Ms Sharkie says the campaign was developed in the context of data showing approximately 5% of the Victorian adult population have children 12 years or younger and are current smokers, which corresponds to approximately 211 273 smokers.
"This campaign may be confrontational but we don't apologise for that. If we can get just one of those 211 273 smokers to quit and spare one young Victorian the grief of losing a parent to smoking then our job is done."
"It is our responsibility to give smokers the strongest reasons possible for making a quit attempt. Research shows us smokers respond best to confronting messages about the serious effects of smoking on themselves and their children.
Ms Sharkie said a key message for smokers is that not everyone who dies from a smoking-related illness is elderly.
"The fact is that every week 4 Victorians lose a parent under the age of 50 to a smoking-caused illness - sadly when it comes to smoking-caused death, people from all age groups are affected not just the elderly as is often thought."
Former smoker and parent to two young boys, Christin McCormick, said quitting smoking is one of the most important gifts you can give your kids.
"As a parent, making the healthy lifestyle change to quit smoking is one of the best things you can do for your children."
"Whilst quitting smoking may be tough - it is much tougher to imagine your children growing up without you as a result of it."
"Several years after I quit smoking I was diagnosed with a rare heart condition known as arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia, and all my doctors said that if I had continued to smoke the condition would have been much more difficult to treat."
"This campaign might be confronting for parents, but it sends an important message to smokers who are parents and challenges them to think beyond the personal impact, to the impact of their smoking on their families and that can only be positive," said Ms McCormick.
Ms Sharkie said the campaign had been tested extensively with smokers who commented almost unanimously that it made them feel like they should do something about quitting smoking, if not for themselves, then for their kids.
The new campaign, created by The Campaign Palace, has been developed by Quit Victoria with funding support from the Victorian Government.