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One Cent Up, 60,000 Smokers Down

By Sarah Wotherspoon – June 13, 2008 – Herald Sun

RAISING the price of a packet of cigarettes by as little as one cent a stick could result in at least 60,000 fewer smokers. And increasing exposure to anti-smoking ads could also drastically slash the smoking rate, an Australian-led study has found.

The research, to be published in the American Journal of Public Health today, found price increases and media campaigns were the most effective ways to reduce the uptake of smoking and encourage people to quit.

Study co-author Prof David Hill said the results showed the Government needed to consider greater investment in tobacco control to achieve gains in public health.

“An increase in the real price of cigarettes and mass media campaigns broadcast at sufficient levels of exposure at regular intervals are critical for reducing population smoking rates,” he said.

“The public health gains from reducing tobacco use are huge and indisputable, but we will not see population-level change from irregular tobacco control activity. Ongoing exposure to mass-reach interventions, such as price increases and mass media campaigns are required.”

The study used monthly survey data from Australia’s five largest capital cities to assess the impact of anti-smoking ads and other policies on adult smoking rates.

Quit executive director Fiona Sharkie said cigarettes were cheap compared with food, petrol and even a night at the movies, and the tobacco tax had not increased in almost 10 years apart from CPI increases and the GST.

“The study essentially provides the Government with a blueprint on the best ways to reduce smoking, and it will certainly be invaluable information for the new National Preventative Health Taskforce, who are currently considering ways forward to address tobacco use in Australia,” she said.

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