Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Report urges more people to butt out -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

SHANE MCLEOD: Getting people to stop smoking could deliver substantial benefits for the economy,
according to a new report out today.

It says a realistic cut in smoking rates to 15 per cent could save thousands of lives and many more
cases of smoking-related sickness.

The target has already been reached in California and, as Alison Caldwell reports, it's a goal that
researchers say could be achieved here too.

ALISON CALDWELL: Researchers from Deakin University and the National Stroke Research Institute
co-authored the report called The Health and Economic Benefits of Reducing Disease Risk Factor.

The report studies the health, economic and financial benefits of achieving lower smoking targets
in Australia - targets which have already been achieved in California where 15 per cent of the
population smokes cigarettes.

The report is based on 2004-2005 figures, which found that 23 per cent of the Australian population
smokes tobacco.

It recommends a new target of 15 per cent and says 5,000 lives would be saved each year were that
the case.

ROB CARTER: The figure that we're talking about is approximately $1 billion.

ALISON CALDWELL: Professor of Health Economics at Deakin University, Rob Carter.

ROB CARTER: What was different about this study is we actually looked at realistic reductions in
terms of smoking prevalence. So that, you know, the number of people who are smoking at the moment
is 23 per cent in Australia, and rather than just saying well, can we get that back down to zero,
which is not really realistic, what we did is to say let's look at a country that's similar to us
who has achieved a lower rate.

So what we did was to look at California, and their smoking prevalence rate is down at 15 per cent.
So basically what we said was, we should be able to achieve that rate because someone else has
actually achieved it.

ALISON CALDWELL: The report examined the impact of reaching the target on the health sector, on
industry, government and on daily life in the average household.

ROB CARTER: The daily activities that we're talking about, you know, are things like caring for
children, who does the shopping, who does the cleaning, and most of us perform those roles. The way
we costed that impact was to say, well if you couldn't do it, what would be the cost of someone
else doing it for you.

I guess it's basically helping families function better that people often don't realise.

ALISON CALDWELL: Over a lifetime it's estimated there are just over five million working days lost
and more than 9,000 early retirements due to smoking related illnesses.

The report says just over one million days are lost from household production because of ill health
while 66,000 days of leisure time are lost due to smoking related illnesses.

It concludes smoking rates of 15 per cent would reduce the number of cases of smoking related
diseases by 158,000. It says there would be 2.2 million fewer working days lost and an extra 3,000
early retirements avoided.

When it comes to household production, the report says a 15 per cent target would result in 373,000
fewer days lost to illness.

ROB CARTER: I think it's really important to realise that it's still, that the smoking rate is
still too high, that we can do better, that others quite similar to us have done better and that if
we were able to do that it would really still have quite large impacts.

ALISON CALDWELL: But the report is out of date, according to the head of the National Preventative
Health Taskforce, Professor Rob Moodie.

He says current smoking rates are at 17 per cent. He believes a more realistic target to aim for
should be around 9 per cent.

ROB MOODIE: Well it's actually below 20 per cent at the moment, by the way, so it's not going from
23 per cent down to 9 per cent, it's going from something like, you know, 17 per cent. So it's
absolutely reachable.

We're a very low taxing nation on cigarettes, we're 16th out of 18 OECD countries. A packet of
cigarettes here is much cheaper than it is for example in London or Ireland or Norway or even
Toronto. So you know, there are adjustments that we can make.

SHANE MCLEOD: The chairman of the National Preventative Health Taskforce, Professor Rob Moodie,
ending that report from Alison Caldwell.