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This World No Tobacco Day (Sunday 31 May), Cancer Council SA is urging young people to stay smoke free amid a push from the tobacco industry to normalise smoking amongst younger generations. 

Triennially since 1990, Cancer Council SA has been monitoring South Australian adolescents’ health behaviours via the Australian School Students Alcohol and Drug Survey (ASSAD).

The latest results show that of all the adolescents surveyed aged 12–17 years, 10.2 per cent had smoked or tried a cigarette at some point in their lives. This is a significant decrease from 1996 where over 50 per cent of people aged 12–17 had tried a cigarette.

The data also shows that nearly four out of five adolescents perceived smoking cigarettes to be extremely important in increasing a person’s risk of getting cancer.

Cancer Council SA Chief Executive Lincoln Size said the data shows a significant decline. However, he is concerned that the emergence of e-cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco products have the potential to normalise smoking amongst the state’s youth, undoing all the great work we have done over the past 30 years.

“It’s concerning to see the tobacco industry developing products that appear to be targeted at young people, including flavoured e-cigarette products and roll-your-own tobacco products at a cheaper, more affordable price point,” he said.

“Our concern is that these tactics entice young people to try a cigarette or e-cigarette and normalise smoking behaviours, putting all of the great work we have done in jeopardy.”

“Data from Quitline’s 2020 Evaluation Report demonstrated that among respondents, the average time from trying tobacco to daily consumption is three years, which is why it’s important we educate young people now and discourage tactics targeted at them before they become regular smokers,” he said.

“This World No Tobacco Day we want young people to realise that any type of smoking, from e-cigarettes to roll-your-own tobacco, can negatively impact their health,” he said.

This World No Tobacco Day, Cancer Council SA is urging young people to contact Quitline if they are thinking of taking up smoking or if they are looking to quit. With services like web chat available through the Quitline website, there has never been more support available.

“Quitline understand the needs of young people and offers an anonymous web-chat service, which provides tailored information and support. We also offer support over the phone through our dedicated Quitline number 13 7848,” said Senior Quitline Counsellor David Schmidt.

“We can provide information and support along with practical tips to help you quit and make sure smoking doesn’t become a daily habit.  Smoking can have a detrimental impact on your health, which is why it’s important that young people understand the risks and access support early through Quitline,” he said.

“Our message to all smokers, whether it’s your first cigarette, or you’ve been smoking for years, is to get in touch. World No Tobacco Day is the perfect time to make that call or start an online chat. We’re here to help.”

Held on Sunday 31 May, World No Tobacco Day is a global initiative that aims to raise awareness on the harmful and deadly effects of tobacco use and second-hand smoke.

This year, the theme for World No Tobacco Day is Protecting youth from industry manipulation and preventing them from tobacco and nicotine use #tobaccoexposed.

For more information on World No Tobacco Day visit the Quitline website:

Additional Story angles: 

In addition to the above, Cancer Council SA can also help with accessing the following spokespeople and stories:

  • Dr Greg Miller, Chairman of the Australian Dental Foundation; can speak about the detrimental impact smoking has on dental health, particularly amongst the younger generations and his concern around the tobacco industry targeting young Australians.
  • Dr Raglan Maddox, Study Director for Tackling Indigenous Smoking Program; can speak about the smoking rates in Australia’s Indigenous youth, the Tackling Indigenous Smoking Program and why he’s concerned about tactics used by the tobacco industry to Indigenous young people.
    Notes to Editor:

Notes to Editor:

  • The data from the ASSAD Survey refers to South Australians aged 12 to 17 years of age who have ever tried a cigarette.
  • The percentage of South Australian adolescents who had ever smoked or tried a cigarette has been declining at the following rate:
      • 1996 – 56.1 per cent
      • 1999 – 52.2 per cent
      • 2002 – 46.9 per cent
      • 2005 – 31.2 per cent
      • 2008 – 24.3 per cent
      • 2011 – 19.8 per cent
      • 2014 – 13.8 per cent
      • 2017 – 10.2 per cent