Plunge in smoking in Australia attributed to new plain packaging laws

August 1, 2014 Alpha1 Admin Comments Off

A dramatic decline in smoking rates has coincided with the introduction of plain-packaging laws in Australia. The daily smoking rate decreased from 15.1 per cent to 12.8 per cent between 2010 and 2013, according to the largest and longest-running national survey on drug statistics. Most people are now 16 before they smoke their first full cigarette, up from 14 in 2010, and 95 per cent of 12 to 17-year-olds have never smoked.

“It’s almost like finding a vaccine that works very well against lung cancer,” said Simon Chapman, a professor in public health at the University of Sydney. “It’s that big. This will give enormous momentum to the international push for plain packaging right around the world.”

The president of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health, Mike Daube, said they were the best results he had seen in his 40-year career in health policy.The National Preventative Health Taskforce in 2009 set a target of 10 per cent adult prevalence by 2018. ” I think we are now going to beat that, and once we’re below 10 per cent I think we will see an even faster decline as smoking essentially becomes an abnormal behaviour,” Professor Daube said.

He attributed the figures to effective media campaigns, tax increases and bipartisan political approach to reducing smoking, as well as the plain packaging laws. “The plain packaging has been a crucial factor in the last two to three years,” he said.

Ireland follows Australia as the second country globally to legislate for the plain packaging of tobacco products. India and France are now also considering plain packaging laws as well as New Zealand and Britain.

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