NSW Health and tobacco control

Tobacco smoking is the greatest single cause of premature death and is a leading preventable cause of morbidity in New South Wales.

Smoking-related illness accounts for around 5,300 deaths and 46,000 hospitalisations per year.  These hospitalisations are mainly due to lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and ischaemic heart disease.

Non-smokers can also be adversely affected by exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). In children, breathing ETS can lead to bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma and other illnesses. In adults, breathing ETS can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, lung cancer and other lung diseases. This is in addition to the "irritant" effects of ETS on the eyes, nose, throat and airway passages that arise from the presence of irritant chemicals in tobacco smoke.

 NSW Health is a major driving force in tobacco control in NSW, working on:

  • tobacco policy development
  • provision of cessation services and
  • enforcement of legislation.

NSW Health is committed to reducing tobacco-related harm in NSW and will continue to work closely with key partners at the State and Commonwealth level, in local government and with non-government organisations.

 The last 25 years of tobacco control activity has resulted in dramatic reductions in the number of people who smoke tobacco products and the number of people who are exposed to ETS.

 The substantial decline in smoking rates within the NSW population over this period can be attributed to social marketing programs such as the NSW Quit Campaign and the introduction of strong policy and legislative reforms. The reforms in the Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2008 and Smoke-Free Environment Act 2000 further strengthen tobacco control efforts in NSW.

 NSW Tobacco Strategy 2012 - 2017

The NSW Tobacco Strategy 2012 - 2017 sets out the actions that NSW Health will lead to reduce tobacco related harm in NSW.

 The Strategy includes:

  • A focus on addressing tobacco smoking in populations with high smoking rates, particularly Aboriginal communities, women smoking in pregnancy, mental health consumers and people in corrections facilities
  • Enhanced programs to help smokers quit and  
  • Measures to protect people from harmful second-hand smoke in outdoor areas.

The Strategy was informed by a public consultation on the Strategic Directions on Tobacco Control in NSW 2011 – 20 16 Discussion Paper. 

Tobacco Legislation Amendment Act 2012

The Tobacco Legislation Amendment Act 2012 was passed by the NSW Parliament on 15 August 2012. The Act amends the Smoke-free Environment Act 2000 to make the following public outdoor places smoke-free areas from 7 January 2013: 
  •  Within 10 metres of children’s play equipment
  • Swimming pool complexes
  • Spectator areas of sports grounds or other recreational areas while organised sporting events are being held
  • Railway platforms, light rail stations and ferry wharves
  • Bus stops, light rail stops and taxi ranks
  • Within 4 metres of a pedestrian access point to a public building

And from 2015 in Commercial outdoor dining areas being:

    •  a seated dining area, or
    •  within 4 metres of a seated dining area on premises that are licensed premises under the Liquor Act 2007 or the premises of a restaurant defined in that Act, or
    • within 10 metres of a place at a food fair where food is sold or supplied for consumption at the event, with a food fair being an organised event at which the principal activities are the sale or supply of food for consumption at the event and the consumption of that food
The Act also amends the Health Services Act 1997 to allow local health districts or statutory health corporations to enact by-laws regulating or prohibiting smoking, including by designating areas as smoke-free for the purposes of the Smoke-free Environment Act. In addition, for public hospitals controlled by the Crown, regulations will be able to be made designating areas as smoke-free.  If such by-laws or regulations are enacted, it will be an offence under the Smoke-free Environment Act to smoke in the area.

Previous Tobacco Strategies

NSW Tobacco Action Plan 2005 - 2009

The NSW Tobacco Action Plan 2005– 2009 set out NSW's commitment to the prevention and reduction of tobacco-related harm. The Plan built on the achievements of previous Tobacco Action Plans by addressing key challenges in tobacco control.

 The NSW Tobacco Action Plan 2005 - 2009 consisted of two parts:


National Tobacco Strategy 2004 - 2009

The National Tobacco Strategy 2004 - 2009 is a statement from the federal, state and territory governments to improve health and reduce the social cost caused by tobacco.

The National Tobacco Strategy 2004-2009 has expired and has been evaluated. Following consideration of the findings of the evaluation, a new strategy has been implemented will be developed and is expected to be implemented in early 2011.

Page Updated: Wednesday 3 October 2012