Draft National Tobacco Strategy 2012 - Comments related to the draft strategy
Overall, the strategy is comprehensive and the action areas cover evidence based population level approaches, enhancing policy in public settings and product regulation, strategies to improve cessation support and additional strategies to reach vulnerable and disadvantaged groups. It’s encouraging to see priority area 6.1 Strengthen social marketing campaigns to motivate smokers to quit; discourage uptake of smoking; and reshape social norms about smoking cover off on various strategies as evidence strongly demonstrates the efficacy of sustained, well-funded mass media campaigns to help drive down smoking rates.
The draft strategy mentions the vital role of ‘Tobacco in Australia: Facts and Issues’ in making sure tobacco control professionals are kept up to date – this could be strengthened by noting that sustained funding for this resource is crucial.
It is recommended to re-phrase some the actions under 6.2 Continue to reduce the affordability of tobacco products to ensure there is provision to take strong action in this area. It is also recommended to tighten actions 6.2.7, 6.2.8 and 6.2.9 and roll them into one action item as this potentially highlights that illicit tobacco is more of a problem than is actually the case. It is also recommended to review references to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to ensure consistency and that all information is current. It is also important to ensure the FCTC and in particular Article 5.3 is an overarching principle of the strategy.
It is very promising to see a raft of actions under 6.4 Strengthen efforts to reduce smoking among people in disadvantaged populations with high smoking prevalence as the burden of tobacco use is carried by groups already experiencing multiple disadvantages. Research from Cancer Council NSW in 2004 illustrates that the most disadvantaged households stand to gain the most from a fall in smoking prevalence. Whilst recognising that disadvantage has no perfect measure, it is recommended that a definition of disadvantage be incorporated into the preamble on 6.4, and inclusion of information on high prevalence groups from section 9 of Tobacco in Australia: Facts and Issues (see: Tobacco in Australia website.) to broaden the current content. The actions currently identified are good, and could be strengthened by extending to a wider range of services and other target groups. High level national and/or state/territory working groups could be established to oversee and facilitate the progress. Partnerships at a national level could be established with government departments and agencies outside of health to generate tobacco control action within Government funded human service programs. After over five years of program work in this area, Cancer Council NSW is best placed to provide further advice on this.
It is recommended to extend action item 6.5.11 to include all forms of entertainment, rather than just movies.
More clarity if required around local, state and territory government roles in monitoring and enforcing smoke free legislation.
Action item 6.7.4 needs to be updated as all states and territories have introduced regulations around smoking in cars with children, except Northern Territory. Clarity around what is meant by ‘policy’ approaches in homes would also be useful. It is recommended to include non-government organisations under 6.7.6 responsibilities as many NGOs have a key role in supporting workplaces.
Under action item 6.8 it is strongly recommended to remove ‘slightly more than one third had changed to low tar tobacco’ (pg 41) as this is not a measure of success in tobacco control and could be misconstrued.
Priority area 6.8 Provide access to a range of evidence based cessation services to support smokers to quit mainly focuses on Quitline services, which is a vital service that requires ongoing funding as part of multi-strategic approach to cessation support services. There needs to be provision for more integration of cessation support in health settings, with the appropriate training and policy development support.
Recognising the complexity of data collection and measures, part seven, Monitoring Progress, needs to be amended in consultation with states and territories around their current capacity and methods in data collection to get a more informed picture nationally. Cancer Council WA, Department of Health WA and National Heart Foundation would be well placed to provide this information for Western Australia.
To ensure full implementation of this strategy to improve the health of all Australians by reducing the prevalence of smoking and the significant health, social and economic costs, and inequalities it causes, there needs to be ongoing funding for a secure workforce at all government levels and for non-government organisations – and it is recommended that this is acknowledged.
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