Why governments should invest in another mass media anti-smoking campaign
By Cancer Council NSW
One in five cancer deaths are attributable to smoking tobacco. Of all the preventable causes of cancer, tobacco causes the most deaths and continues to be a significant public health issue.
History tells us that an effective way to encourage people to not smoke is for governments to invest in major public anti-smoking campaigns. But it’s been more than a decade since the last mass media campaign in Australia.
We believe that it’s now time for another campaign. Read on to learn more about why.
New research shows that smoking is still a huge issue that needs addressing
Smoking rates have continued to slowly trend downwards in recent years. However, the total number of smoking related cancer deaths is still increasing, as Australia’s population grows and ages.
The new research projects that over 250,000 people will die of a smoking-related cancer in Australia over the next 25 years.
Australia’s longest running antismoking public education campaign was a huge success – it saved over 55,000 lives
It started in 1997, when the Australian government launched the National Tobacco Campaign, a mass media campaign, to reduce smoking rates in Australia, particularly Australians aged between 18-40.
The campaign included 6 graphic advertisements on the health effects of smoking and a ‘Call for help’ advertisement to promote the use of the Quitline service. These advertisements were rolled out in 3 phases between 1997 and the 2000’s.
The campaign was a huge success in promoting smokers to quit and quitters to remain ex-smokers. The first phase of the campaign alone saved 55,000 lives, as it reduced the Australian adult smoking rate by 1.4%, equating to 190,000 fewer smokers!
This led to continued funding of the National Tobacco Campaign which became part of Australia’s first National Tobacco Strategy in 2004. Since the Campaign’s launch, numerous campaign materials and advertisements have been run under the National Tobacco Campaign to further encourage people not to smoke.
However, despite their success , it has now been more than a decade since our last national mass media led anti-smoking campaign.
Public education works, which is why we need the government to invest more
With a proven track record, we know that one of the most effective ways to prevent smoking is through public education campaigns, so we’re calling on governments to do it again.
Together with new approaches in early detection such as targeted lung cancer screening, we can reduce the number of Australians that die from preventable cancers.
At Cancer Council NSW, we know that preventing cancer is one of the most effective ways of creating a cancer free future. And when it comes to smoking, policy reform plays a central role.