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Quit Story

A look back at helping Australians who smoke to quit

“Quit” is today a recognisable brand for supporting people who smoke or vape to quit. “Quit” has been associated with campaigns, organisations, and support services. Through Quitline services and extensive cessation support information, resources and evidence-based tools accessed through, Quit provides direct support for people who smoke or vape to quit. We also support doctors and health professionals with vital, evidence-based resources to help patients to quit through our National Best Practice Support Service for Nicotine and Smoking Cessation – Quit Centre. Quit continues to advocate for legislation to protect Australians from the harms of smoking and vaping. and Quitline are national services for all Australians.

Decades of encouraging Australians to “quit”

The quit message has a long history in Australia of being associated with smoking cessation, extending back to at least the 1970s, when there were occasionally “Quit Clubs” and other smoking cessation efforts labelled “Quit” campaigns. Since then, “Quit” has been more formally attached to specific campaigns and to organisations. The 1978 “Quit for Life” campaign was run in three towns in northern NSW, and was jointly funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and the NSW Department of Health.1 The aim of this campaign was to discover the strategies that best help people who smoke to quit. A powerful output of this early effort was creation of the famous “Sponge” television advertisement, which was shared with the smoking cessation campaigns run by other states and remains well-known today.2

After the first Quit for Life campaign demonstrated that a combination of public education and direct assistance through GPs and “Quit” services could successfully support people to stop smoking, “Quit” campaigns were launched around the country, in WA in 1982, in Sydney in 1983, and in Melbourne and South Australia in 1984.3 Evaluations were carried out on these campaigns to examine their effectiveness in encouraging quitting behaviours among people who smoke. In each state where campaigns ran, cessation resources were developed for people who smoke and for health professionals, alongside the implementation of “Quit” lines.4 2

The various state Quit campaigns shared health promotion resources and educational materials through the 1980s and -90s, and together helped drive a strengthening national anti-smoking advocacy agenda. During the 1990s, many states launched multi-year efforts to drive down smoking and improve health. The lessons from them informed design of the National Tobacco Campaign (NTC) in 1997, which was led by the Commonwealth Department of Health and advised by an committee of experts in tobacco control from around the country.5 From June 1997, the NTC created an anti-smoking message broadcast around the country through four iconic televisions ads using the slogan “Every cigarette is doing you damage”,5 6 and it promoted Quitline services in all states and territories. The NTC continued into the early 2000s and many of its images and slogans remain recognisable.

Collective use of the “Quit” brand in messaging, sponsorship, and smoking cessation support reflects decades of cohesive work by tobacco control advocates around the country, in government, and in many different organisations. “Quit” had become a recognisable label encompassing the anti-smoking effort, and although long used by the Victorian Smoking & Health Project—formed in 1984—to describe its work,7 it officially became the organisation’s name in 2004: Quit Victoria. Similarly, around the country now, other organisations include “Quit” into their name, including Quit HQ in Queensland, iCanQuit in New South Wales, and Quit South Australia.

This unity in naming reflects the hard work of tobacco control advocates around the country who have helped to dramatically reduce smoking rates.8 “Quit” efforts have been an important part of Australia’s comprehensive tobacco control program that, together with the progressive implementation of indoor smoking bans, Plain Packaging, point-of-sale legislation, and large tobacco excise increases, have discouraged young people from taking up smoking and encouraged Australians who smoke to quit.

Supporting Australians to quit into the future

These sustained, national efforts have helped drive down smoking to its lowest level in history. Just under 9% of adults now smoke daily. Youth smoking is even lower.9 10 But there is more to do. Smoking is still the leading cause of disease burden and death in Australia.10 Vaping rates have risen dramatically over the last five years. Today, 21% of 18 to 24-year-olds currently vape.9

To tackle the continuing problem of smoking and the new vaping challenge, in 2024, the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care funded Quit to develop a national digital hub. It will provide equitable access to evidence-based cessation information and tools to support people who smoke or vape to quit. Its creation brings together a four-decade long national effort to end smoking and nicotine use.

Now, as we confront the new challenge of vaping, these decades of experience and success will be turned towards ending non-therapeutic vaping.


1 Egger G, Fitzgerald W, Frape G, Monaem A, Rubinstein P, Tyler C, McKay B. Results of large-scale media antismoking campaign in Australia: North Coast" Quit for Life" programme. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1983 Oct 15; 287(6399): 1125.

2 Pierce JP, Dwyer T, Chamberlain A, Burke N, Frape G, Chapman S. Evaluation of the Sydney “Quit. For Life” anti‐smoking campaign: Part 1. Achievement of intermediate goals. Medical Journal of Australia. 1986 Mar; 144(7): 341-4.

3 Borland R, Winstanley M, Reading D. Legislation to institutionalize resources for tobacco control: the 1987 Victorian Tobacco Act. Addiction. 2009 Oct; 104(10): 1623-9.

4 Pierce JP, Macaskill P, Hill D. Long-term effectiveness of mass media led antismoking campaigns in Australia. American Journal of Public Health. 1990 May; 80(5): 565-9.

5 Hill D, Carroll T. Australia’s national tobacco campaign. Tobacco Control. 2003 Sep 1; 12(suppl 2): ii9

6 Miller CL, Wakefield M, Roberts L. Uptake and effectiveness of the Australian telephone Quitline service in the context of a mass media campaign. Tobacco Control. 2003 Sep 1; 12(suppl 2): ii53-8.

7 Victorian Smoking & Health Project. A joint initiative by the Health Commission of Victoria, the Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria, and the National Heart Foundation. “Information manual: Quit.” June 1985.
Designed and Produced by the Educational Resource Centre, Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne.

8 Greenhalgh, Elizabeth, M. Bayly, S. Jenkins, and M. M. Scollo. 1.3 Prevalence of smoking—adults. In Greenhalgh, EM, Scollo, MM and Winstanley, MH [editors].  Tobacco in Australia: Facts and issues. Melbourne: Cancer Council Victoria; 2024. Avail:

9 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2022-2023 (Canberra, 2024). Avail:

10 Scully M, Bain E, Koh I, Wakefield M, and Durkin S. ASSAD 2022/2023: Australian secondary school students’ use of tobacco and e-cigarettes. Centre of Behavioural Research in Cancer, Cancer Council Victoria, 2023. Avail:

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