SMOKING rates among young people in NSW and Queensland fell from 15 per cent to 11 per cent in the two years following tobacco display bans in 2010 and 2011, new research shows.
A new report released this week in the Journal of Nicotine and Tobacco Research is the first to assess the medium-term effects of the retail display ban on the smoking behaviour of young Australians.
The study followed more than 6000 young people aged 12 to 24, and also reported a decline in cigarette brand awareness among young people.
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Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said the results reinforced the necessity of a range of strategies to help Queenslanders quit smoking.
“This report highlights that effectiveness of retail display bans, in conjunction with a range of initiatives, to reduce smoking rates,” Ms Clift said.
“Historical declines in smoking rates in Queensland are a credit to the State Government, with thanks to bans on smoking in pubs, clubs, and restaurants.
“More recently, smoking has been further denormalised by these retail display bans, a ban on smoking in cars carrying children, and no smoking outside school gates and on hospital grounds.
“These initiatives, along with the introduction of plain packaging and an increase in smoke free spaces, will fast track a smoke free future and ensure the future health of all Queenslanders.”
Currently, around 500,000 people smoke each day in Queensland.
Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said the introduction of smoke free spaces would see rates of smoking among young people continue to decline.
“Protecting our next generation from the harmful effects of smoking and second-hand smoke is crucial,” Ms Clift said.
“10 Queenslanders die every day from smoking – it’s a tragic figure that dwarfs other causes of preventable and premature deaths.
“We know that the majority of Queenslanders support smoke free spaces and want protection from the lethal effects of smoking.”
“We need strong action to continue for the health of all Queenslanders. The next step towards a smoke free Queensland requires no smoking at bus stops, taxi ranks, ferry terminals, and in pedestrian malls.
“Smoke free spaces in State legislation will protect people from the harmful effects of smoking, encourage more smokers to quit, and prevent more young people from taking up the lethal habit.”
Smokers can obtain free information, practical assistance and support from Quitline, 13 QUIT (13 7848), or join the QUEST to quit at www.quest.org.au.