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New study shows smoking rate target unreachable without strong action

New research from the Daffodil Centre, a joint venture between Cancer Council NSW and the University of Sydney, shows the Australian Government target of 5% adult smoking rates by 2030 would not be achieved until 2039 if current trends were maintained and could be further delayed until 2066 if trends in tobacco control effects flatlined.

Associate Professor Marianne WeberLead author Associate Professor Marianne Weber said the new study, published in the international medical journal Tobacco Control, modelled three key scenarios, which produced a range of results depending on trends.

“The best-case scenario was 5% adult smoking rates by 2037, if we could eliminate smoking uptake in young people and continue the gains we’ve seen in the rate of quitting,” Associate Professor Weber said. “Less favourably, if uptake continued to fall at the rate it was at the start of the forecast period, we would be on track for 5% prevalence by 2039.

“Even more unfavourable, yet plausible, would be a future where we see no further improvement in preventing uptake or the rate of quitting, where our analysis showed we would be waiting until 2066 to achieve 5% adult smoking prevalence.”

Alecia Brooks, Chair of Cancer Council’s Tobacco Issues Committee, said the study bolsters the landmark tobacco and vaping control package in the recent federal budget, and was a timely announcement ahead of World No Tobacco Day.

“Current adult smoking rates are around 10%, allowing for some uncertainty in recent data collection during reporting periods affected by the COVID pandemic,” Ms Brooks said.

“Cancer Council welcomed the target of 5% smoking prevalence by 2030 when it was announced a couple of years ago and we called for a raft of policy measures to help achieve it.

“The Daffodil Centre study shows that without strong action, even in a best-case scenario we’d fall seven years short of the target.

“The study highlights how protecting young people from starting smoking is vital to reach the 5% prevalence goal. This is why we were so concerned about vaping, as we know non-smokers who take up vaping have three times the odds of starting smoking compared to their non-vaping peers.”

Ms Brooks said the $737 million in initiatives in the recent federal budget and legislative reforms announced by Federal Health Minister Mark Butler, as well as the release of the National Tobacco Strategy (2023-2030), will re-establish Australia as a world leader in tobacco and vaping control.

“Legislation to further reduce the appeal and availability of tobacco products, and measures in the budget including improved cessation support and enforcing import laws to protect young people from e-cigarettes, have reset tobacco control policy.

“As this new research shows, 5% adult smoking prevalence by 2030 remains an aspirational goal. The renewed commitment shown by the Australian Government is set to bring it much closer.”


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