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Smoking kills Victorians as young as 30: new report

Posted 7 May, 2018

Dozens of Victorians are needlessly dying from smoking-related health problems before they even reach middle age.

A new analysis of the most recent Australian Burden of Disease Study show that 179 Victorians aged in their 30s and 40s were killed by tobacco-related diseases  in a single year.

Quit Victoria Director Dr Sarah White said the new analysis disproves the myth that only older people die from smoking.

“We’ve known for decades that tobacco is deadly, but this new analysis shows how cigarettes are killing people in our local communities at a much younger age than a lot of people realise,” Dr White said.

In 2011, smoking killed:

·         24 Victorians in their 30s

·         155 Victorians in their 40s, and

·         393 Victorians in their 50s.

“Every single one of these deaths could have been prevented. These aren’t just numbers, they’re people who have left behind young children, partners, friends and family. We must continue to take action to deter people from starting to smoke and to help people to quit,” Dr White said.

The report also reveals that smoking killed 4,427 Victorians in 2011 – more than triple the number of alcohol-related deaths, which include road traffic accidents, assaults, self-harm and chronic disease.

Department of Health and Human Services’ Chief Preventive Health Officer Dr Bruce Bolam said preventing tobacco related health problems must be a priority.

“Smoking is still the leading preventable cause of death and disability in Victoria, accounting for 8% of the total disease burden. No other modifiable risk factor puts as much strain on Victoria’s healthcare system as tobacco,” Dr Bolam said.

“While our smoking rates are declining overall, this new analysis highlights that we still have a lot of work to do to prevent tobacco-related diseases in the first place, and reduce the enormous cost to individuals, communities and our economy.”

Dr White said public education campaigns were vital for helping people to quit and deterring people from taking up smoking in the first place.

“We’re seeing tobacco companies using underhand tactics to make smoking hip again for young adults and distract them from quitting. We need to ensure that we’re educating Victorians about the serious, life-threatening risks associated with smoking – and remind them that they’re not invincible. The health consequences of smoking will catch up with them, and it might be sooner than they realise,” Dr White said.

Table 1. Deaths attributable to alcohol and tobacco use, by age group, Victoria, 2011

About the research

“The contribution of risk factors to disease burden in Victoria, 2011: Findings from the 2011 Australian Burden of Disease Study” report is an analysis of the Australian Burden of Disease Study 2011 (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2016) data undertaken by the Health Intelligence Unit of the Department of Health & Human Services, Victoria in April 2018.

Deaths of people usually resident in Victoria in 2011, by age group and sex, with underlying cause (Table 1 of the report) together with the mortality population attributable risk fraction (PAF), by age group and sex, used in the Australian Burden of Disease Study 2011 (AIHW, 2016), were used to compute deaths attributable to alcohol and tobacco use, by age group. 


Quit Victoria is a partnership between VicHealth, the State Government of Victoria, Cancer Council Victoria and the Heart Foundation.

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