National Drug Strategy
National Drug Strategy

National Tobacco Strategy 2012-2018: Draft for consultation

Part One: Background

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1.1 Introduction

Smoking is a leading cause of preventable death and disease in Australia. It is responsible for more drug-related hospitalisations and deaths than alcohol and illicit drugs combined.5

Smoking greatly increases the risk of many cancers, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary and respiratory diseases, peripheral vascular disease and many other serious medical conditions.6 Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) also causes disease and premature death in adults and children who do not smoke.7

Tragically, half of all long term smokers will die prematurely because they smoked.8 Smoking also imposes a heavy financial burden on the Australian community - estimated at $31.5 billion in 2004-05.2

Reducing tobacco related harm in our community is a priority for all governments. This document has been prepared by the Intergovernmental Committee on Drugs, Standing Committee on Tobacco as a basis for consultation with the public and interested parties on the development of the National Tobacco Strategy 2012-18.

The draft National Tobacco Strategy 2012-18 sets out the national framework to reduce tobacco related harm in Australia. It reflects best practice in tobacco control and complements existing policy frameworks at the state and territory, national and international levels.

The draft Strategy provides an overview of the impact of tobacco use in Australia, and outlines shared goals, objectives and targets for tobacco control across government and non government agencies for the next six years. It also identifies eight priority areas and key actions to be implemented to reduce tobacco related harm.

The approach in this draft Strategy is to build on the success of previous National Tobacco Strategies and to continue to emphasise population-wide approaches that have been successful in reducing smoking prevalence over the past four decades. Over this time, Australia has progressively implemented a comprehensive range of policies including mass media campaigns, cessation services, health warnings on packaging, prohibitions on tobacco advertising, price increases and controls on ETS and access to tobacco. This sustained and comprehensive public health approach has successfully reduced Australian smoking rates to a level where these are now among the lowest in the world.

All governments in Australia have agreed to reduce adult smoking rates to 10 per cent or less and halve the Indigenous smoking rate by 2018.4

Achieving these targets requires a renewed focus on proven tobacco control strategies and some new approaches, particularly with disadvantaged populations.

This draft Strategy includes important new measures to reduce harm caused by smoking, such as the implementation of the world’s first plain packaging laws for tobacco and consideration of further regulation of tobacco products. There is a strong emphasis on reducing the health inequalities arising from smoking among the most disadvantaged groups in our society. Successful population-wide strategies will be complemented by targeted approaches to assist disadvantaged groups to quit smoking and to reduce health inequalities.

Finally, this draft Strategy recognises the importance of working in partnership. It will provide a strong platform for continued partnerships between governments and non government organisations and help drive the establishment of new partnerships to reduce tobacco related harm. This approach has been a hallmark of tobacco control and has been crucial to its success over many years.

1.2 Structure

The draft National Tobacco Strategy is divided into seven parts: