2013 Cancer Prevention Survey: findings from the tobacco control module

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More than a third of cancers can be prevented through healthier lifestyle choices. To reduce cancer risk among the NSW community, it is therefore important for Cancer Council to have a clear understanding of:

  • the prevalence of behaviours associated with increased cancer risk
  • the NSW community’s knowledge of cancer risk factors
  • barriers to and enabling factors that support a “cancer smart” lifestyle.

To better understand these factors, Cancer Council NSW conducted an online survey of over 3,000 adults living in NSW. A total of 2,473 adults completed the tobacco control module, which covered issues relating to:

  • smoking status
  • passive smoking
  • smoking and inequality
  • tobacco control policies

Key findings

Prevalence of smoking related behaviour in NSW

  • Percentage of people who smoke: 17%
  • Average number of cigarettes smoked by smokers every day: 15
  • Percentage of people who try to avoid other peoples cigarette smoke: 67%

Smoking and inequality

  • Disadvantaged groups are more than 5 times more likely to smoke, but only 49% of people surveyed knew this.
  • Percentage of people who thought disadvantaged smokers should be offered specific assistance to quit: 60%

Support for tobacco control policies

All policy options explored by the survey received majority support (over 50%). The four  policies that received the greatest support are:

  • Greater penalties for the sale or supply of tobacco products to those under the age of 18 (87% support)
  • Requiring retailers to have a licence to sell tobacco in the same way that retailers need a licence to sell alcohol (79% support)
  • Bans on displaying tobacco products at the sales counter (69% support)
  • Government subsidies for NRT (69% support)