National Drug Strategy
National Drug Strategy

Submission by Bupa

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26 June 2012

Healthcare Management Advisors
PO Box 1311
Fitzroy North VIC 3068

By email: draftnts2012 at Healthcare Management Advisors;

To Whom It May Concern:

National Tobacco Strategy (NTS) 2012-2018 – Draft for consultation

We refer to the Intergovernmental Committee on Drugs, Standing Committee on Tobacco's (“Standing Committee”) call for public submissions on the Draft National Tobacco Strategy (NTS) 2012-2018 (“Consultation Draft”).

Bupa commends the draft Strategy as outlined in the Consultation and welcomes the opportunity to provide comments on the Consultation Draft and are happy to further elaborate on the content of this submission if required.

Who is Bupa ?

Bupa operates several healthcare businesses in Australia and is probably best known as the country‟s largest privately managed health insurance provider, with a market share of around 27%. We have a significant presence in all States and Territories and support the health care needs of around 3.3 million Australians.

In Australia, Bupa operates five businesses: Bupa Australia Pty Ltd (private health insurance); Bupa Care Services (person-centred residential aged care); Bupa Health Dialog (evidence-based wellness, prevention and chronic disease management services); Bupa Wellness Pty. Ltd.(PEAK Health Management; providing corporate wellness services); and Health Eyewear (Blink Optical - optical services). Additionally, as part of the global Bupa Group, Bupa in Australia draws on the strength and expertise of an international healthcare provider. The global Bupa Group cares for more than 33 million people in approximately 190 countries.

Bupa‟s purpose is to help people live longer, healthier, happier lives. As such, we are committed to supporting customers in making informed decisions in relation to their health and healthcare and helping people to better manage their health over the long-term.

As part of the delivery on our purpose, Bupa invests in health innovation and research through the Bupa Health Foundation - one of the largest corporate foundations dedicated to health in Australia. To date, Bupa has invested over $25 million in the Bupa Health Foundation who are currently actively partnered with more than 40 organisations in the areas of healthy ageing; managing chronic disease; keeping healthcare affordable; promoting wellbeing; and empowering people about their health.

Preventing smoking uptake among children and young adults

Bupa strongly supports the Standing Committee‟s goal, as outlined in the Consultation Draft, “to improve the health of all Australians by reducing the prevalence of smoking and its associated health, social and economic costs, and the inequalities it causes.”

We note that the Consultation Draft acknowledges that, “the majority of smokers start smoking as teenagers”, (page11). Bupa strongly believes that in order to ensure this goal can be achieved, that the strategy needs to be amended to explicitly list youth and young adults as a priority group for which there should be direct and specific targeting with prevention strategies.

Bupa also notes that the Consultation Draft states that some adult-targeted activities can positively influence young people‟s attitudes and behaviours about tobacco use (page 22). Although this may be so, we believe that young people and the initiation of smoking is too important a contributor to overall smoking rates, and the impact of smoking in the longer term, that they not receive specific focus in any national prevention strategy.

It is important that the evidence that “adult-targeted activities can positively influence young people‟s attitudes and behaviours” should not be relied upon as the major part of the strategy to effectively target this group or to justify only funding activities which „efficiently‟ jointly target young people and adults. While these activities have been shown to have some impact on young people, we believe that in order to ensure that young people are as effectively targeted as possible the strategy should also acknowledge the need to include activities that specifically target young people. Adult-targeted activities which inadvertently or potentially influence young people to some extent should be seen as a complementary activity for this target group and not the primary activity.

For example, actions that seek to “reduce smoking”, such as action 6.1.1 (page 23), should be expanded to make specific reference to young people as a priority target group (given that “the majority of smokers start smoking as teenagers”). Additionally, references to “reducing smoking” should be expanded to specifically identify the need for targeted activities that seek to “prevent the uptake of smoking in young people”.

Conclusion

We wish to thank the Standing Committee for the opportunity to provide comments on the Consultation Draft. While we have some concerns that the strategy does not target, in an explicit enough way, the uptake of smoking in young people, we support the commend the Standing Committee on the development of the National Tobacco Strategy 2012-2018 and look forward to its finalisation.

If you have any questions or require further information, please do not hesitate to contact me on (02) 9323 9898.

Yours sincerely,
Signature of Ms Ayela Thilo
Ms Ayela Thilo
Head of Health Policy and Regulatory Relations
Bupa Australia

Page currency, Latest update: 02 June, 2013