New research suggests plain packaging is prompting Australians to quit smoking, with reports of a spike in calls to Quitline following the introduction of the world-first law.
The research*, published in The Medical Journal of Australia this week, shows a 78 per cent increase in weekly calls to Quitline coinciding with the introduction of plain packaging in 2012.
The study investigated weekly Quitline calls from New South Wales and the ACT, recording 363 calls in the week before plain packaging began on October 1, 2012, to 651 calls four weeks later.
Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said the findings were encouraging.
“This research adds even more weight to the importance of plain packaging,” Ms Clift said.
“Plain packaging and graphic health warnings make it almost impossible for smokers to ignore the devastating effects of smoking.
“We are confident that this important legislation will prevent people from taking up smoking and encourage others to quit.
“The findings should provide another strong incentive for other countries around the world to follow Australia’s lead and introduce this important health reform.”
One in seven deaths in Queensland are due to smoking, according to latest Queensland Health figures, with an average 3422 deaths a year from smoking and 300 deaths from exposure to second-hand smoke.
Ms Clift said while tobacco plain packaging laws were an important step in the fight against tobacco-related illness and death, more needed to be done to support smokers to quit and to stop the tobacco industry recruiting new smokers.
“Cancer Council Queensland has urged, and will continue to urge, the State Government to establish smoke free public places in State legislation.
“We know that most smokers want to quit, and each year about 10,000 of them are successful in Queensland – but many more would quit if the State Government would introduce statewide laws to ban smoking in designated public places,” Ms Clift said.
Cancer Council Queensland recommends smokers seek support from the Quitline, 13 QUIT (13 7848), or join the QUEST to quit at www.cancerqld.org.au.
More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available via Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20.
For more information or interviews, please contact:
Katie Clift, Executive Manager, Media and Spokesperson, Cancer Council Queensland
Ph: (07) 3634 5372 or 0409 001 171
*Association between tobacco plain packaging and Quitline calls: a population-based, interrupted time-series analysis, Jane M Young, Ingrid Stacey, Timothy A Dobbins, Sally Dunlop, Anita L Dessaix and David C Currow.