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New report shows huge cost of smoking in the community


Smoking costs Victorians over $5 billion dollars a year, including almost $190 million to the Victorian health system, according to a new report prepared for Victorian Department of Human Services. 

According to the report, Victorians bore a quarter of the $20 billion Australian social costs of smoking in 1998/99.

Individuals and their families shoulder the majority of the total costs of smoking on the community, amounting to approximately $4.3 billion.

The report shows:

  • Social cost of smoking in Victoria were approximately $5.05 billion in 1998/99
  • Total health care costs are $400.4m, whilst total labour costs and smoking associated fire costs were $709.9m and $6.4m respectively
  • In the year 1998-99 there were a total of 4,747 tobacco attributable deaths and 234,680 hospital bed days caused by tobacco related illness at a cost of $186.6 million to the Victorian health system.

Quit has welcomed the report by Dr David Collins and Professor Helen Lapsley, that also estimates the benefits that would arise from reductions in smoking prevalence by five percentage points over five years.

Executive Director of Quit, Mr Todd Harper, said effective quit smoking mass media campaigns drive a reduction in smoking rates and yield very high social benefits.

"The report shows us that if we can get smoking rates down by 5%, this can represent a long-term saving of over $10 000 per person prevented from taking up smoking by quit smoking interventions."

"As highlighted by Dr Collins and Professor Lapsley, quit smoking campaigns produce very high rates of return compared with many other public health programs."

Mr Harper pointed to the success of Quit's latest campaign advertisement featuring a gangrenous foot caused by smoking, as an example of how mass media can encourage smokers to make a quit attempt.

"The response to date to the campaign has been overwhelmingly positive with Victorian Quitline calls increasing by 73% after the initial launch, when compared to calls to the Quitline in the two weeks prior."

"Mass media quitting campaigns are a proven and effective way to push smoking rates down and this translates into social savings of millions of dollars."

According to Mr Harper, recent Victoria tobacco reforms will also play a significant role in curbing the devastating toll of tobacco on the community.

"The State Government has made a lot of progress in the recent years in relation to tobacco control."

"The package of tobacco reforms currently being rolled out by the State Government is an investment in the quality of life of future generations of Victorian that will no doubt in time reduce the enormous burden of tobacco on the State," Mr Harper.


Edwina Vellar,
Media Manager
ph: (03) 9635 5400
mob: 0417 303 811

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