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Smoking trends down butt not out

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Queensland’s smoking trends are on the decline with teenagers and young men leading the way, giving hope that fewer young people are taking up the habit.

Releasing the fifth biennial The Health of Queenslanders Report today, Queensland Health Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said it was pleasing to see fewer people smoking and rates for teenagers and young men falling faster than other age groups.

“In 2014, 14 per cent of adults reported smoking daily, and this is a 26 per cent reduction in the past decade.

“Teenagers and young men, aged 18 to 29, are leading the way and it gives me hope that this will result in fewer young people taking up the smoking habit in the future,” Dr Young said.

“However, tragically smoking accounted for one in seven deaths in Queensland, with 3,700 Queenslanders dying annually from tobacco related conditions.

“We may be smoking less and breathing easier but it is alarming that one in four cancer deaths were due to smoking and half of long-term smokers will die from smoking related causes,” she said.

Despite the decline in some smoking trends, too many Queenslanders continued to smoke.

“It’s estimated that there are still about 500,000 adult smokers in Queensland and that’s 500,000 too many.

“We’ve had great wins with those wanting to quit, the ‘contemplators’ and those who just needed a nudge, but the real challenge will lie in getting those really committed smokers to quit once and for all - not just for themselves and their families, but for the community’s benefit as well,” she said.

One of Queensland Health’s stop smoking campaigns (If you smoke your future’s not pretty), was particularly targeted at young women by highlighting the impact smoking has on physical appearances.

“Market research has showed that hard-hitting messages weren't getting through to young women and also showed physical appearance was the main driver for young women to contemplate giving up smoking,” Dr Young said.

“Smokers are not only putting their health at risk, they are also ageing themselves with every puff without realising the cause of those extra wrinkles is right at their fingertips.”

The campaign’s website includes information on quitting smoking, common triggers and how to overcome setbacks. A QuitTracker app also helps to monitor progress with a smoking diary.

“Universally, there is a groundswell of anti-smoking support. However, as success can sometimes create a false sense of security, it is important we don’t think the battle is over or we could lose the gains we’ve made.”

“That’s why the emergence of products like electronic cigarettes and personal vaporising devices that mimic smoking pose such a threat. We can’t let these or anything else normalise smoking or we risk creating a new market of nicotine users,” Dr Young said.

Background information:

  • Smoking accounts for one in seven deaths in Queensland with 3700 Queenslanders dying annually from tobacco related conditions. About one-third of these were of working age.
  • In 2014, 14 per cent of adults reported smoking daily, a 26 per cent reduction from 2004.
  • One in four cancer deaths were due to smoking.
  • Half of long-term smokers will die from smoking related causes. Over 32,000 people accessed Quitline during 2013-2014 and of these over 1,500 were Indigenous Queenslanders.
Last updated: 19 November 2014