Media Room

There are still 1.2 million smokers in NSW alone

24th October 2019 - Cancer prevention

Cancer Council NSW will today present data showing that there are still 1.2 million smokers in NSW and is calling on renewed comprehensive and coordinated tobacco control efforts.

Cancer Council NSW’s Tobacco Control Manager, Alecia Brooks says the number is due to fluctuating government investment in evidence-based strategies, population growth and demographic change.  “Reductions in smoking rates have slowed, in step with reduced government commitment to effective measures such as hard-hitting antismoking campaigns. The impact on the state’s health and economic outcomes will be significant, unless steps are taken now to make tobacco control a priority, as it was when the decline in smoking rates was much greater.”

Data shows a downwards trend in anti-smoking campaign spend in NSW from over $6 million in 2017, to $4 million in the first 9 months of 2018. Back in 2012 however, there was almost $10 million investment in campaigns which resulted in a decline in smoking numbers.   In light of the figures, Cancer Council NSW is calling on the NSW Government to make tobacco control a priority again by investing more into continuing to reduce smoking rates.

Ms Brooks said, “Achieving declines in smoking rates is only possible with increased investment in what we know works. Evidence shows the following activity will have greatest impact on reducing smoking rates across the state: creating smoke-free environments to protect people from second-hand smoke, limiting the widespread availability of tobacco through retail restrictions, and encouraging people to stop smoking through investment in mass media campaigns.”

Earlier this week at the Oceania Tobacco Control Conference, Minister Hunt announced an additional $5 million in funding for the national tobacco campaign this year on top of the previously announced $20 million over the next four years. 

Ms Brooks said, “Minister Hunt should be commended for doubling his commitment to the first 12-month campaign to $10 million. It shows he’s prepared to back up his landmark national preventive health strategy with funding and provides an opportunity for the NSW Government to leverage the commitment to address the slow down in smoking prevalence decline.”

“It’s important to remember that community support for tobacco control remains high in NSW, so we need to ensure that the right actions are taken to protect people from the harms of tobacco and save thousands of lives,” Ms Brooks concluded.

This data will be presented today in Sydney at the Oceania Tobacco Control Conference, where 450 leaders in tobacco control will meet to discuss how to make tobacco control a priority again. This year’s Oceania Tobacco Control Conference (OTCC) is hosted by Cancer Council NSW. Cancer Council is Australia’s leading cancer charity working across every aspect of every cancer.

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Media contact: Eden Patrick, Cancer Council NSW, T: (02) 9334 1903; M: 0421 517 245;

Notes to editor

About the conference

  • Oceania Tobacco Control Conference (OTCC) will be held in Sydney on the 22-24 October 2019 at Doltone House, Jones Bay Wharf.
  • The OTCC is a biennial conference that brings together tobacco control researchers, advocates, policy makers, and program administrators from Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island nations to share the latest research in tobacco control, and to showcase best practice and emerging trends from international jurisdictions.
  • This year OTCC is hosted by Cancer Council NSW and the theme is ‘Making Tobacco Control a Priority’.
  • Visit the website for more information:
  • Join the conversation on social: #OTCC2019

About Cancer Council

  • Cancer Council is Australia’s leading cancer charity working across every aspect of every cancer. Every day, we support families affected by cancer when they need it most, speak out on behalf of the community on cancer issues, empower people to reduce their cancer risk, and find new ways to better detect and treat cancer. With your help, we’re getting closer to a cancer free future every minute, every hour, every day.
Cancer prevention