31 May 2022

NSW Health is urging people who smoke to join the ranks of Australia’s largest quit-smoking group this World No Tobacco Day.

The 2021 NSW Population Health Survey, published today, shows daily smoking rates decreased from 9.2 per cent of NSW residents aged over 16 in 2020 to 8.2 per cent in 2021.

Dr Kerry Chant, NSW Health Chief Health Officer, said she is impressed that so many NSW residents aged 16 plus have successfully quit smoking, with around 23% of NSW residents counting themselves as former smokers.

“The NSW quitters group now numbers about 1.5 million, which is amazing progress because we know quitting can be hard,” Dr Chant said.

“To anyone who wants to quit but is finding it challenging, be encouraged by the success of these people, and know that there is support available to help you quit successfully.”

The 2021 NSW Smoking & Health Survey, also published today, shows 41 per cent of NSW people who smoke are serious about quitting in the next six months, with 19 per cent of those planning to quit in the next month.

“Quitting smoking is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It will reduce your risk of sixteen different types of cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke and other debilitating conditions,” Dr Chant said.

“Concerningly, people put off quitting because think they will be able to quit before the damage is done. But every single cigarette smoked is doing damage. That’s why we want people to get the support they need to quit for good. Call the Quitline on 13 78 48, visit icanquit.com.au or have a chat with your GP.”

While tobacco smoking might be on the decline, Dr Chant said the growing prevalence of e-cigarette use, or vaping, by young people is extremely concerning.

“In 2020-2021, more than one in 10 NSW residents aged 16 to 24 years vaped. That rate has more than doubled relative to 2019-2020,” Dr Chant said.

“This is worrying trend for our young people because vapes can contain many harmful chemicals and toxins, even if they are nicotine free. We know vapes can harm your health in the short-term, but the long-term effects are largely unknown.

Dr Chant said this increase of vaping has the potential to undermine decades of tobacco control in Australia by creating a new generation of people who smoke.

“There’s strong evidence of a smoking ‘gateway effect’. That is, people who vape are three times as likely to go on to smoke tobacco cigarettes than those who don’t vape.

“My message to young people who vape: Please quit today and know there is support available.”

In 2021-2022, the NSW Government is investing $18.3 million on tobacco and e-cigarette control. Individuals can get support to quit from their health care professional, or the Quitline on 13 78 48, which provides a confidential, telephone-based service. You can also visit I Can Quit.

This year, World No Tobacco Day gives you one more reason to quit by demonstrating the environmental impacts of tobacco. Cigarette butts are the most littered item in Australia, with up to nine billion ending up as litter. More information on the campaign is available at WHO - World No Tobacco Day.