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PBS to face massive blow-out unless smoking rates fall

Monday 6 September, 2004

Australians face a massive blow-out to the cost of the PBS unless smoking rates fall by 5%, a study published in The Medical Journal of Australia* has revealed.

The study indicates that long term costs for subsidised drugs to treat heart disease caused by smoking will jump to over $1.7 billion by the year 2041 unless a stronger commitment to tobacco control interventions is readily adopted.

Co-author of the study, Associate Professor Susan Hurley, said the results of the study pointed to a sizeable 17% drop in cumulative PBS subsidies providing a reduction in the proportion of Australians smoking by 5% (from 20% to 15%) could be achieved.

""Our study demonstrates that quit smoking interventions have the potential to help control cost pressures on the PBS,"" Associate Professor Hurley said.

“Reductions in tobacco use have been clearly shown to reduce healthcare costs.”

“However despite the substantial evidence that effective tobacco control programs would result in long term cost savings, such interventions have not been fully or optimally implemented in Australia,” Associate Professor Hurley said.

Quit Victoria Executive Director Todd Harper, welcomed the study results as compelling evidence of the need for greater Government investment in sustainable quit smoking campaigns.

“The study clearly shows us that more money needs to be put into tobacco control,” said Mr Harper.

“This investment in quit smoking advertising and public education, treatment and support would help curtail PBS costs, but of paramount importance it would decrease smoking-related illness in Australia.”

“Government investment in tobacco control is easily offset by savings in the containment of PBS, hospital and medical costs caused by smoking related disease, making it not just a vital health strategy but a smart economic one.”

“Put simply, now is the time to invest more to get smoking rates down,” said Mr Harper.

Hurley, S et al, “The potential for tobacco control to reduce PBS  costs for smoking-related cardiovascular disease”  (2004), in Medical Journal of Australia 181: 252-255. 

Further information:
Edwina Vellar,
Media Manager

ph: (03) 9635 5400

mob: 0417 303 881

email: edwina.vellar@cancervic.org.au

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