Tobacco smoking in Australia
Tobacco smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death and disease in Australia. Smoking leads to a wide range of diseases including many types of cancer, heart disease and stroke, chest and lung illnesses and stomach ulcers. It claims the lives of 15, 500 Australians every year.
Reducing smoking-related death and illness is a priority of Cancer Council Australia. Its Tobacco Issues Committee has developed a number of position statements, some of which are aimed at helping individuals reduce smoking-related health risk and others of which support Cancer Council’s key tobacco-related advocacy priorities.
Members of the Tobacco Issues Committee include representatives of the National Heart Foundation of Australia, the Australian Council on Smoking and Health (ACOSH), Quit organisations, and the VicHealth Centre for Tobacco Control, as well as Cancer Councils around Australia.
These include the following:
Passive smoking causes early death and health problems in children and adults who do not smoke. A smoke-free environment is the only way to fully protect non-smokers from the dangers of second-hand smoke.
This position statement explains passive smoking and its health effects. It highlights the particular danger to hospitality workers and details public support for smoke-free workplaces and public spaces. The statement includes recommendations for reducing health risk by avoiding tobacco smoke.
Stopping smoking has immediate as well as long-term benefits, reducing risk of disease and improving general health. While there is no ‘easy fix’ for quitting smoking, there are a number of methods and products available that may help.
This position statement outlines various approaches to stopping smoking and provides general recommendations to assist smokers planning to quit.
Dangers of 'reduced-harm' cigarettes
For many years, thousands of Australians smoked “light” and “mild” cigarettes in the belief they were consuming products that were less harmful than regular brands. The evidence, however, showed that smoking “light” and “mild” cigarettes was just as harmful as consuming regular brands. In 2005, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission determined that the promotion of “light” and “mild” cigarettes was misleading and ordered that such brands be withdrawn from sale and that the tobacco industry fund compensatory advertising for its deceptive conduct.
Despite the experience of “light” and “mild” brands, the tobacco industry continues to claim that it is developing cigarettes that are less harmful, with some of these products already available overseas. There is insufficient regulation to prevent so-called “reduced-harm” cigarettes from becoming available in Australia.
This position statement summarises the evidence that shows there is no such thing as an independently verified “reduced-harm” cigarette. It includes key recommendations for helping to ensure Australians are not misled into consuming “reduced-harm” cigarettes, including the need for government to establish a mechanism to ensure that any communication about cigarettes – including about their contents or emissions – is evidence-based, complete and in the public interest.
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