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Thousands of hospital visits avoided by drop in smoking rates


Healthcare costs and hospitalisations would take a welcome dive if a further modest drop in smoking rates were achieved, a study published in The Medical Journal of Australia has revealed.

The study indicates that over 3000 heart attack hospitalisations and over 1000 stroke hospitalisations could be avoided and over $60 million in health care costs saved in the short-term, if smoking rates fell by 1% every year for the next five years.

Even a 1% reduction in smoking rates in the first year would ensure that almost 1000 hospitalisations from heart attack, and about 350 hospitalisations from stroke are avoided in the following 7 years.

Author of the study at The Cancer Council Victoria's VicHealth Centre for Tobacco Control, Associate Professor Susan Hurley, said the purpose of this study was to estimate the short-term benefits of a reduction in smoking in middle aged Australians on acute myocardial infarction (AMI or heart attack) and stroke hospitalisations.

""Smoking is still the leading risk factor for total disease burden in Australia,"" said Associate Professor Hurley.

“The results of the study provide further support that achievable reductions in smoking rates can substantially improve health outcomes and reduce health care costs in Australia.”

Associate Professor Hurley said one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking rates, was through investment in mass media led tobacco control campaigns.

“Even if further reductions in smoking can only be achieved with more intensive and costly campaigns the cost-effectiveness of such mass media campaigns would be likely to be favourable.”

“If it cost $13 million for a campaign that reduced smoking by 1% in the first year, the cost would be recovered through reduced hospitalisations for heart attack and stroke alone in 5 years.”

“This is without even considering the substantial benefits from reductions in other diseases caused by smoking such as lung cancer and emphysema.”

Executive Director of Quit Victoria, Mr Todd Harper, said the development of a mass media campaign, like the National Tobacco Campaign featuring the Every cigarette is doing you damage advertisements, would make a 1% per annum decrease in smoking rates a very real possibility.

"A powerful media campaign increases the likelihood of having a meaningful impact on smoking levels, and as this study illustrates, the broad health and economic benefits of lower smoking rates is tremendous" said Mr Harper

*Hurley, S, "Short-term impact of smoking cessation on myocardial infarction and stroke hospitalisations and costs in Australia" (2005), in Medical Journal of Australia 183: 13-17.

This study was undertaken on behalf of the Cancer Council Victoria’s VicHealth Centre for Tobacco Control.



Edwina Vellar,
Media Manager
ph: (03) 9635 5400
mob: 0417 303 811
email: Edwina.Vellar@cancervic.org.au

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