Posted 2 May, 2023
Quit and Cancer Council Victoria welcome new national approach to reboot tobacco control in Victoria
02 May 2023
Quit Victoria and Cancer Council Victoria today welcomed the long-awaited release of the National Tobacco Strategy 2023 – 2030 on the same day as sweeping reforms to vaping regulation were announced.
Quit Director, Matthew Scanlon, praised the breadth and depth of the Strategy, congratulating Health Minister Mark Butler and his State and Territory counterparts for their commitment to strong regulation in the face of a resurgent tobacco industry; an industry attempting to maintain its profitability through aggressive marketing and interference in government policies aiming to end the tobacco epidemic.
“Today’s release is a welcome relief. This Strategy will help Australia to retain its world-leading position in driving down smoking prevalence and reducing the associated burden of tobacco-related harm”, said Scanlon.
Noting the substantial health, social, environmental, and economic costs and the inequalities caused by tobacco use, the Strategy aims to reduce the prevalence of daily smoking in Australia to less than five per cent by 2030. Currently, smoking prevalence hovers around 11 per cent across the country.
Five years after the expiration of the last one, this new National Tobacco Strategy clearly maps out action for the next seven years for the Australian Government, States and Territories and non-government agencies across 11 priority areas.
Cancer Council Victoria CEO, Todd Harper AM said, “Tobacco companies in Australia continue to try to dissuade governments from adopting policies to reduce smoking and nicotine addiction. We congratulate Health Ministers for acknowledging the need to protect policy making from commercial and vested interests.”
Priority Area 1 of the Strategy sets out measures to prevent industry interference. Governments have agreed to ensure tobacco companies disclose expenditure on all marketing activities including lobbying, philanthropy, and political donations (Priority 1.5). Australian Governments will also assess the feasibility of taking legal action against the tobacco industry (Priority 1.10).
The Strategy further highlights the need for increased investment in public education campaigns to support and assist Australians wanting to quit smoking or vaping.
Scanlon is pleased Australian Governments will deliver public education campaigns at levels of frequency needed to prompt action (Priority 2.1). “To effectively reach all parts of our diverse community, public education in the 2020s needs to use modern as well as traditional media and to take into account both current media consumption habits and emerging platforms and opportunities.”
He also welcomed commitments to improve and extend vital Quitline services (Priority 11.3). Quitline provides online information, text-based services, and telephone counselling to support people who are quitting smoking. Increasingly these support services are also being used by those now trying to quit vaping. Quitline is the only service of its kind in Australia.
The new Strategy acknowledges the wide range of approaches needed to reach Australia’s culturally and linguistically diverse population, hence the strong emphasis on priority groups including First
Nations Australians (Priority Area 4), those identifying as LGBTIQA+ and those living with mental health problems (Priority Area 5).
Harper said Cancer Council Victoria was keen to work with the Victorian Government to bring the State into line with other jurisdictions more effectively regulating tobacco retailing (Priority Area 8).
“We want to see Australians protected from the many harms created by the tobacco industry – whether this is by further limiting exposure to tobacco smoke in a greater range of public places (Priority Area 10), addressing the rapid rise in vaping or putting an end to unscrupulous marketing tactics. We welcome the additional measures set out in this new NTS,” Harper concluded.
Prue Gildea, Quit Senior Media and Communications Advisor
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