The latest ABS National Accounts figures show Australia’s world leading plain packaging laws have sent tobacco consumption plunging to yet another record low.
The figures released for the March quarter detailed tobacco consumption fell a further 3.8%t. The accumulative effect over the past 12 months has seen consumption plunge 10%, and 17.5% in the two and a half years since Labor’s plain packaging laws came into effect.
The National Heart Foundation’s CEO, Mary Barry, says the Government was on the right path in driving down smoking rates through notable initiatives like tax increases and plain packaging.
“Smoking is a major cause of heart attack, stroke and peripheral vascular disease and is the largest single preventable cause of death in Australia, killing over 15,000 Australians a year or more than 40 people every single day,” Barry says.
“Two thirds of people who smoke regularly will eventually be killed by their smoking habit, with many of these deaths occurring in middle age.
“As well as causing premature death, consumption of tobacco greatly diminishes quality of life, and this affects family, friends and colleagues, as well as smokers themselves.
“Australia can be proud of its remarkable success in cutting population smoking to just 13% but even with this world-leading result, 2.7 million Australians still smoke,” Barry says.
Heart Foundation national spokesperson on smoking, Maurice Swanson, says these results show us that plain packaging, alongside tax measures and education campaigns has worked in reducing demand for tobacco.
“With smoking being a major contributor to premature death in this country the more deterrents people have between them and smoking, the better,” Swanson says.
“People often underestimate the urgency for quitting and many are not aware of how damaging even light smoking is for heart disease, cancer and other preventable illnesses.
“Smokers can call the Quitline on 13 78 48, visit www.icanquit.com.au or speak to their GP or medial practitioner about how they can stop smoking before it is too late,” he says.
Earlier this year the British Medical Journal declared the Australian Government’s world leading plain packaging laws to be “a casebook example of effective tobacco control”.
“The evidence suggests that plain packaging is severely restricting the ability of the pack to communicate and create appeal with young people and adults.” – ‘Death of a Salesman’ – British Medical Journal’s Tobacco Control
Australia was the first country to mandate plain tobacco packaging, as a result of laws that were enacted in 2012.
Plain tobacco packaging is currently being introduced in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
The Singapore government has also announced a public consultation on plain packaging, in Norway there is a public consultation process underway and plain packaging bills are under discussion in Panama, South Africa, France, New Zealand, Burkina Faso and Turkey.