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  • Tobacco control funding decision a major blow

    09 August 2013

    The State Government’s decision to cease funding for tobacco control advertising will have a major impact on smoking rates and will ultimately cost lives. 

    Cancer Council SA has expressed its frustration at the decision by the Weatherill Government to withdraw its support from tobacco control media campaigns which have been a key driver in reducing smoking prevalence.

    Cancer Council SA Chief Executive, Professor Brenda Wilson, said that this decision will have an impact on the significant progress that has been made to reduce smoking rates over the past decade.

    “Smoking prevalence in South Australia has declined substantially over the past 10 years, however it continues to be our state’s largest preventable cause of death and disease – one in two long term smokers will die prematurely from a tobacco related illness,” says Professor Wilson.

    “A key reason for smoking rates having declined from 23.6% in 2002 to 16.2% this year has been the positive impact of the cancer control media campaigns.

    “This is an ill thought out and short sighted decision, and given the effectiveness of previous advertising, it will cost lives.

    “Smokers, and the wider public, must regularly be reminded of not only the deadly consequences of smoking, but also the support and assistance available to those wanting to quit.

    “Tobacco kills around 20 South Australians every week, outweighing total deaths from alcohol and other drugs combined, and tobacco use is estimated to cost South Australia 57,275 hospital bed days annually with a cost to the health system of $24 million. 

    “Given the evidence tells us that anti-smoking mass media has the lowest cost per quitter and also encourages recent quitters to remain quit and discourages the uptake of smoking – this decision simply doesn’t make financial or health sense.

    “Just nine months ago this very same government signed up to the National Tobacco Strategy 2012-2018, along with every other State, in which they agreed that ‘well funded and sustained mass media campaigns increase quitting and reduce prevalence.’ 

    “In light of today’s announcement I fail to see how the Weatherill Government can meet its obligations under the strategy they signed up to only nine months ago.

    “We also hold concerns about the reduction in Drug and Alcohol Services SA (DASSA), which has been an important body in addressing alcohol and tobacco issues across the state. We will await further detail from the Minister on how these important functions will now be managed.”

    Anyone wanting advice on how to quit smoking should call the Quitline on 13 78 48 or www.quitsa.org.au visit . 

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