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Ahead of the State Election this weekend, Cancer Council SA today welcomed the Labor Party’s announcement that they will invest in a Tackling Tobacco Program to help those at greatest risk.

Smoking remains South Australia’s leading cause of preventable death and disease, with 10.6 per cent of South Australians smoking daily.

Cancer Council SA Chief Executive Kerry Rowlands said that South Australia’s daily smoking rate has been increasing slowly in recent years, with rates disproportionately higher in those with poor mental health and in low socioeconomic communities.

“The adult daily smoking rate in South Australia has increased from 8.6 per cent in 2018 to 10.6 per cent in 2020. While it’s concerning to see the rate increase, what’s even more concerning is the smoking rate in at-risk populations.”

“According to the latest SAHMRI Key Smoking Statistics for SA Report, the smoking rate in South Australians with severe mental illness is 25.8 per cent, with the smoking rate for those people in most disadvantaged communities sitting at 15.1 per cent.”

“There is currently no local program available for community organisations whose clients are smokers from priority populations. We are calling on the next State Government to change that.”

Cancer Council SA is calling on all parties to commit to invest $400,000 in the Tackling Tobacco Program, a grassroots program developed in New South Wales that helps to drive down smoking rates in priority groups.

With the State Election this Saturday, Cancer Council SA commended the Labor Party and minor parties for committing to drive down smoking rates in priority populations through the Tackling Tobacco Program and said they look forward to an equal commitment from all parties.

Professor Billie Bonevski is a Professor of Public Health and Behavioural Science at Flinders University. She believes that programs like Tackling Tobacco are key in helping to address the high smoking rates in at-risk communities.

“The really unique thing about the Tackling Tobacco Program is that it’s focused on empowering community organisations in at-risk communities with the tools, frameworks and resources to support their clients to quit.”

“We know that investment in local programs and services is key to driving down smoking rates. These types of programs don’t currently exist in South Australia, which is why I believe Tackling Tobacco is so important,” she said.

Ahead of Saturday’s Election, Cancer Council SA has received the following election commitments:

  • Increase the Patient Transport Assistance Scheme (PATS) rebate for regional and remote South Australians from $40 to $100 per night for an individual and from $80 to $115 per night for a couple; Committed to by the Greens and SA Best. The Liberals have committed to increase the PATS fuel subsidy but not the accommodation rate.
  • $2 million investment into local cancer research every year for the next three years through the Cancer Council Beat Cancer Project; Committed to by the Greens and SA Best.
  • A contribution of $400,000 over four years to fund a Tackling Tobacco Pilot Program in South Australia to help reduce the smoking rate in at-risk communities; Committed to by Labor, The Greens and SA Best.

Cancer Council SA Chief Executive Kerry Rowlands said that there is still more to be done by the next State Government to achieve a cancer free future.

“All three of our election asks are targeted, backed by evidence and cost-effective and we know they will make a real difference to the thousands of South Australians impacted by cancer every year.”

“While it’s promising to see commitments to some of our election asks, we are still seeking a commitment to all three asks from the major parties ahead of the next State Election this Saturday,” she said.

To read more about Cancer Council SA’s Election Priorities you can download our 2022 Election Document here.

Interviews can be arranged on request by contacting Natasha Baugh on 0400 855 244 or emailing