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Australia smoking rates drop as plain package cigarette laws take effect



The Australian government has recently announced a 15% reduction in the amount of people smoking, as recent policy measures enforce plain cigarette packaging laws.

Figures show that in 2010, smoking was as high as 15.8%. This has dropped by 15%, to 12.8%, in 2013 among people 14 and older – a dramatic decline that follows anti-smoking campaigns.

The figures were published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), who encouraged the implementation of plain cigarette packaging laws to remove the attraction of labels and marketing ploys.

An AIHW spokesperson said, “This means the daily smoking rate has halved since 1991.

“Smokers have also reduced the average number of cigarettes they smoke per week-down from 111 cigarettes in 2010 to 96 cigarettes in 2013.”

The results also show that younger people are delaying starting. The amount of 12-17 year olds who had never smoked remained as high as 95% in 2013, while the proportion of 18-24 year olds who had never smoked rose from 72% to 77% between 2010 and 2013.

Age has also increased when examining the age of a smoker’s first cigarette. On average, people now smoke their first at the age of 16, which has risen from 14 between 1998 and 2013.

Australia has been a pioneer in implementing plain cigarette packaging laws, facing fierce opposition from big tobacco – including lawsuits over the loss of profit, but the decision being upheld by the high court. The Australian government also raised tobacco tax by 25% as well as being one of the first governments to implement graphic images of smoking related health problems on cigarette packaging.

The UK government has recently received criticism from health professionals anxious to implement plain packaging laws as results like these highlight its effectiveness.

The increased use of e-cigarettes in the UK has also raised concerns with health officials as their benefits may be misleading. This is reflective of the industry as a whole, as predatory practices by the tobacco industry in the e-cigarette market has raised suspicions.

Photo source: Thomas Lieser via Flickr 

Further Reading:

Tobacco industry maintaining ‘predatory practices’ in move towards e-cigarettes

Government makes U-turn on plain cigarette packaging

Big tobacco giants Reynolds and Lorillard in $56bn merger

Medical professionals call for speeding up of plain cigarette packaging plans

Labour anger at government’s decision to shelve plain cigarette packaging