HABIT: Dmitry Smirnov says he regrets taking up smoking as a teenager, as he now finds himself in the minority among his friends.
HABIT: Dmitry Smirnov says he regrets taking up smoking as a teenager, as he now finds himself in the minority among his friends. Patrick Woods

New campaign ups the ante in smoking campaign

A NEW federal government anti-smoking campaign has been hailed as a vital step towards making Australia the world's first smoke-free society.

Launched by Assistant Health Minister Senator Fiona Nash, the $4.6 million campaign will include television, radio, print and online advertising throughout this month, focussing on at-risk groups including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Ms Nash said significant gains had been made in cutting smoking rates, with the number of Australian smokers over 18 falling from 22.4% in 2001 to 16.3% in 2011-12.

And it's not just in tobacco sales that the impact was being felt, with a Nambour GP revealing many patients were now embarrassed to admit they were smokers.

"These days, most people really look quite ashamed by the fact that they are smoking," Dr Wayne Herdy said.

"Some will say they don't care but most people are fairly embarrassed to admit they are smokers.

"At least that shows they are thinking about the impact on not only their health but those around them."

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Dr Herdy said doctors were starting to see a fall in smoking-related illnesses but the slow-developing diseases could take many years to emerge.

"Smoking-related illness is something that takes a long time to develop even after a person has stopped smoking," he said.

"We are starting to see a small drop-off in smoking-related illnesses but what we are really seeing is a continuous trend of smoking turning from a popular habit to anti-social behaviour."

Brisbane visitor Dmitry Smirnov wasn't afraid to admit he smoked but wished he didn't.

The Russian-born 29-year-old said when he started smoking as a teenager it was a popular pastime with friends, but now he felt like the "odd one out".

"Up to about two or three years ago, pretty much all of my friends were smoking. Now I'm one of the only ones," Mr Smirnov said.

"Smoking has gone from this pastime to very much the burden of a habit because I've been smoking for so long."

President of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health, Professor Mike Daube, said yesterday's campaign launch was a crucial signal the federal government was taking a strong line in action to reduce smoking.

"If we maintain our focus, we should be down to under 10% of Australians as regular smokers within five years.

"It is even possible that within 10 years we could be as low as 5% of adults," he said.

"Australia is on the verge of a spectacular public health triumph."


  • Kills more than 40 Australians a day
  • 45% of those who die in Queensland from smoking-related illness are under 75-years-old
  • Daily smokers has dropped from 22.4% in 2001 to 16.3% in 2011-12
  • Costs an estimated $31.5 billion each year in social and economic costs - $6 billion in Qld
  • The Government is committed to reducing the national adult daily smoking rate to 10% by 2018

Source: Cancer Council Queensland and http://www.quitnow.gov.au

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