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Smoking is increasingly on the nose with Victorians

Photo: Smoking on the nose with Victorians
Cigarette smoking rates have taken a dive in Victoria with plain packaging laws, public bans and advertising restrictions all having an impact.

Smoking is increasingly on the nose with Victorians thanks to plain packaging, tobacco advertising laws and a crackdown on lighting up in public.

Cancer Council Victoria figures show one in 10 people report being daily smokers, with a decrease in the habit recorded in all age groups across the state in the three years to 2018.

"This means tens of thousands of families will be spared the agony of a smoking-caused death," Cancer Council Victoria chief executive Todd Harper told reporters on Wednesday.
He put this down to a crackdown on tobacco advertising and restrictions on where people could smoke, as well as community education and plain packaging laws.

Annual phone surveys of about 4,000 Victorians show daily statewide smoking rates went from 13.5 per cent in 2015 to 10.7 per cent last year.

The figures also revealed an overall three-year decrease in smoking rates for people who did not finish high school, Health Care Card holders and those living in lower socioeconomic or regional areas.

Between 2017 and 2018, there was a slight increase in smokers aged over 50, with the rate rising from 9.3 to 9.8 per cent.

But Christopher Smith, 51, managed to defy that trend.

He quit smoking 10 weeks ago and said he's saving about $120 a week.

"I feel the difference in the fact I don't need to have that cigarette and rule my day by having those cigarette breaks that I'd normally aspire to. And I've started running as well," he said.

"I don't feel like I ever want to have another one."

State Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said the Cancer Council's figures showed "that what we are doing is working".

"There's been a push by big tobacco overseas to liberalise e-cigarettes and to allow vaping," she said.

"But if we look at the international experience, we know that this is providing a gateway effect for young people to take up smoking. So this is something that I will very strongly resist."

In Victoria, the sale of non-nicotine e-cigarettes is allowed but they are subject to the same regulations as tobacco.

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