Money needed to help smokers quit

TASMANIA has the highest smoking rate in the country but spends the least amount of money trying to persuade people to quit, says Cancer Council of Tasmania chief executive Simon Barnsley.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics national average for current smokers as a proportion of the total population is 18.1 per cent compared with 23.2 per cent in Tasmania, Mr Barnsley said.

``The difference in percentage points between Tasmania and Australia now stands at 5.1 percentage points whereas eight years ago this difference was only 2.2 percentage points,'' he said.

Yet the Tasmanian government has a lower level of per capita investment in social marketing than most other jurisdictions.

Mr Barnsley's call on the state government to increase its investment in social marketing to encourage people to quit smoking by $600,000 a year over the next four years was contained  in Cancer Council Tasmania's recent funding submission to the government for next financial year.

Mr Barnsley said that it was disturbing to find that smoking prevalence among Tasmanian men aged 25-34 was 45.8 per cent, almost double the national rate.

``Smoking prevalence for young pregnant women is 46.8 per cent for those under 20 and 35.5 per cent for those aged 20-24 which is among the highest levels in the country,'' he said.

He wants state government funding to support a quit smoking campaign that would spend:

- $345,000 annually on mass market-based social marketing.

- $155,000 annually on targeted campaigns using nationally proven models to address specific population groups.

- $100,000 annually on health data acquired through population survey data to understand the Tasmanian population smoking prevalence within sub groups.

The Cancer Council used modelling provided by the Heart Foundation to show that if Tasmania could reduce its smoking rates by 15 per cent it would achieve annual savings of $14.7 million in health care costs. 

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