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Public Submission by Dental Health Services Victoria - Draft National Tobacco Strategy 2010 — 2018

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Dental Health Services Victoria

Dental Health Services Victoria is the State’s leading public oral health agency, promoting oral health, purchasing services and providing care to Victorians

22 June 2012

Draft NTS 2012
Healthcare Management Advisors
PO Box 1311
Fitzroy North VIC 3068

Response to draft National Tobacco Strategy 2012-2018

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the draft of the National Tobacco Strategy 2012-2018.

Dental Health Services Victoria (DHSV) is Victoria’s leading public oral health agency. We have a significant role in health promotion, providing advice, resources and evidence to health professionals and the wider community. DHSV also supports the education and training of Victoria’s current and future oral health professionals.

The draft paper highlights a commitment 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. DHSV is committed to working in partnership with government as well as non-government organisations and community groups to reduce the harm caused by smoking.

Evidence clearly demonstrates the links between smoking and oral health. Smoking is a causative factor for periodontal disease and oral cancer and a risk factor for other oral mucosal lesions1 . Tooth decay, gum disease and oral cancer share risk factors with other major preventable diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes. These shared risk factors include tobacco smoking, inappropriate diet, alcohol consumption, injuries, poor hygiene and exposure to ultraviolet radiation2.

Tobacco is the number one risk factor for the development of oral cancer with around 1,200 Australians diagnosed (excluding lip cancer) each year. It is estimated that smoking accounts for 75 per cent of oral cancer cases in Australia 3 . If a person doesn't already have oral cancer, stopping smoking will halve their risk of mouth and throat cancer within five years.

Smoking is also a risk factor for the development of periodontal disease. Smokers are four times more likely to have advanced periodontitis than non-smokers 4. Estimations are that one-third of Australia’s two million cases of severe periodontal gum disease could be prevented by not smoking 5.

DHSV notes that smoking among people from low socioeconomic and other disadvantaged groups including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, is much higher that the general population. DHSV recommends applying an equity lens to planning and implementation of prevention programs.

DHSV supports the full implementation of plain packaging laws and larger health warnings on tobacco packaging to reduce the appeal of these products. We believe that these changes will have a beneficial effect on the health of Australians. Legislation that discourages people from taking up smoking and encourages people to give up smoking will lead to improvements in public health.

The Royal Dental Hospital of Melbourne (RDHM) became totally SmokeFree on 1 January 2010. Staff, patients and visitors are not permitted to smoke in buildings, car parks, courtyards, entrances or footpaths surrounding the hospital. Staff are also prohibited from smoking at DHSV events and in DHSV vehicles. DHSV supports staff who wish to quit smoking by subsidising the cost of nicotine replacement therapies and running a support program.

In summary, DHSV is very supportive of the National Tobacco Strategy 2012 – 2018. It provides a framework for building the evidence base for tobacco control and monitoring progress. We would like to see oral health integrated within the national framework set out in the draft and believe the strategy could be strengthened by reinforcing the link between smoking and oral health to reduce tobacco-related harm in Australia.

Please contact Susanne Sofronoff, Acting Manager Health Promotion, should you require additional information.

Signature of Dr Deborah Cole, Chief Executive Officer, Dental Health Services Victoria
Dr Deborah Cole
Chief Executive Officer
Dental Health Services Victoria

Corporate Office
Dental Health Services Victoria
GPO Box 1273L Melbourne VIC 3001

Dental Health Services Victoria Website
ABN: 55 264 981 997

1 National Oral Health Promotion Clearing House (2011), Oral health messages for the Australian public. Findings of a national consensus workshop. Australian Dental Journal, 56: 331–335. doi: 10.1111/j.1834-7819.2011.01339.x
2 National Advisory Committee on Oral Health 2004, Healthy Mouths Healthy Lives: Australia’s National Oral Health Plan 2004-2013, Department of Health, SA.
3 McCullough MJ, Prasad G ,Farah CS (2010). Oral mucosal malignancy and potentially malignant lesions: an update on the epidemiology, risk factors, diagnosis and management. Australian Dental Journal, 55 (supp 1) 61 – 65.
4 Chambrone L, Chambrone D, Lima LA, Chambrone LA (2010) Predictors of tooth loss during long-term periodontal maintenance: a systematic review of observational studies. J Clin Periodontol. Jul 2010;37(7):675-84. Epub 2010 May 26.
5 Rogers JG, Evidence-based oral health promotion resource. Prevention & Population health branch, Government of Victoria, Department of Health, Melbourne 2011

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