New figures show that the smoking caused the deaths of over 19,000 Australians in 1998.
Figures releases by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare show that smoked caused 19,019 deaths in 1998.
Quit Victoria's Executive Director Todd Harper says the new figures are compelling evidence of the need for increased funding for quitting campaigns and widening smoking bans to include all workpaces, including bars and pubs.
'These figures show the tragic impact of smoking in our community - accounting for an unacceptable number of deaths. They also show the considerable health care resources that are going towards treating people with smoking related illnesses.'
Data released shows that in 1998 illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease caused by smoking caused the deaths of just over 19,000 people. This compares to slightly over 1000 deaths caused as a result of illicit drug use.
In 1997-8 around 142,500 people required hospital treatment for illnesses caused by smoking, compared to 43,000 for alcohol related illnesses, and 14,400 for illness caused by illicit drug use.
Mr Harper says the latest figures also show more men are dying from illnesses caused by smoking than women, with smoking accounting for the deaths of almost 13,000 men, and around 6000 women.
Most smoking related deaths occur in people aged 65 and over, but over 20% of deaths caused by smoking occurred in people aged between 35-64.
'The answer to the rising death toll for smoking is clear - help current smokers quit.'
'Investing more money in campaigns to help people quit smoking has been shown to be effective in reducing the number of deaths, and the level health care resources required to treat illness caused by smoking,'
'It's a small investment for the long term health of our community.
'It's important to remember that stopping smoking - at any age - has immediate health benefits.'
'Studies have shown people who stop smoking, even well into middle age, significantly reduce their risk of lung cancer, and stopping before middle age reduces by 90% the risk of getting lung cancer related to smoking.'
'Someone who quits now will reduce their risk of stroke to almost the same level as that of a person who has never smoked after 15 years, and after 12 months the risk of dying from a heart attack is reduced by half.'
'Helping more adult smokers quit reduces smoking related death and disease almost immediately.'
Figures released in the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's report The Quantification of Drug-caused Mortality and Morbidity in Australia 1998 show the biggest smoking-related killer for men is cancer, which accounts for around 43% of all male tobacco-related deaths. Lung cancer accounts for just over three quarters of male tobacco-related cancer deaths.
Cancer is also responsible for the largest number of tobacco-related deaths in women, accounting for around 32% of all female tobacco-related deaths. Lung cancer accounts for 75% of female tobacco-related cancer deaths.
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