31 May 2018

New data released on World No Tobacco Day shows a 7.3 per cent drop in smoking rates in NSW over the past 15 years.

According to the latest NSW Population Health Survey 15.2 per cent of adults smoked in NSW in 2017, down from 22.5 per cent in 2002, and more than half of NSW adults have never taken up smoking.

NSW Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant, said NSW Health’s NSW Tobacco Strategy was working to help people quit smoking for good.

“It’s good to see significant progress in tobacco control in NSW but we need to be vigilant to ensure that smoking rates continue to decrease, as there has been a stabilisation of rates in recent years,” Dr Chant said.

“It is pleasing that the declines in smoking have been seen across population groups, including young people and Aboriginal people. We also know from the School Health Behaviour Survey that smoking among secondary students is at an all-time low of 6.7%.”

The NSW Government invested more than $14 million on tobacco control in 2017-18. This includes public awareness and education campaigns for smoking cessation, quit smoking support, compliance and enforcement of smoke free laws, and targeted programs for particularly vulnerable groups.

The proportion of people who have never taken up smoking has grown from 41.6 per cent in 2002 to 50.7 per cent in 2017 and people who report smoking daily has declined from 17.1 per cent in 2002 to 10.9 per cent in 2017.

“The rate of smoking during pregnancy in NSW also continues to decline annually from 16.3 per cent in 2002 to 8.3 per cent in 2016, but there are still some women smoking during pregnancy and putting themselves and their unborn baby at risk,” Dr Chant said.

“Reducing the rate of smoking during pregnancy is a priority for NSW Health.”

The theme for World No Tobacco Day 2018 is ‘Tobacco and heart disease’, which focuses on the harmful impact of tobacco on the cardiovascular health of people worldwide.

Professor David Currow, CEO and Chief Cancer Officer at the NSW Cancer Institute, said that tobacco use is the second leading cause of cardiovascular diseases, after high blood pressure.

“Smoking increases the risk of many health conditions, including cardiovascular disease and cancer,” Professor Currow said.

“Cardiovascular diseases kill more people than any other cause of death worldwide.”

To help reduce these risks, the Quit Stalling Campaign is targeting young male smokers as their smoking rates are higher than the general population. The campaign can be viewed on YouTube - Quit Stalling Campaign.

“Quitting isn’t easy but there is help available. Smokers can call the Quitline Service on 131 848 or go to iCanQuit to receive the latest information on quitting and ongoing support” said Professor Currow.

For the latest smoking data, visit HealthStats NSW.