High school students from the most disadvantaged areas of Queensland are almost twice as likely to smoke than students from non-disadvantaged areas, new data has found.
Cancer Council data also reveals that compared to students from schools in the most advantaged areas, students from schools in the most disadvantaged areas find it easier to get someone to buy them cigarettes (55 per cent vs 37 per cent), are more likely to have a male primary caregiver who smokes (34 per cent vs 18 per cent), and are more likely to have a female primary caregiver who smokes (28 per cent vs 14 per cent).
The findings are based on the Australian Secondary Students’ Alcohol and Drug (ASSAD) Survey, which quizzed more than 3900 Queensland secondary students aged between 12 and 17 years.
Compared to the state average, the survey found students from schools in the most disadvantaged areas are more likely to be heavy, light or occasional smokers (14 per cent vs 8 per cent), are less likely to have never smoked (81 per cent vs 89 per cent), are more likely to have used e-cigarettes (18 per cent vs 11 per cent), are more likely to have at least three of their five closest friends who smoke (18 per cent vs 10 per cent), and are more likely to have a brother or sister who smokes (22 per cent vs 14 per cent).
Cancer Council Queensland CEO spokesperson Katie Clift said while the Queensland Government’s commitment to tobacco control over the past decade has been tremendously impactful, reducing rates of smoking by 26 per cent, we have more work to do.
“The death toll from tobacco continues to mount – about 3700 Queenslanders die every year from smoking-related illness and disease,” Ms Clift said.
“Beyond the intolerable personal cost, smoking is estimated to cost the Queensland economy more than $6 billion a year, resulting in over 35,000 hospitalisations.
“We must do all we can to stop young people from smoking.
“Evidence shows that those who start smoking from a young age are more likely to continue smoking into adulthood and find it hard to quit.
“We know the majority of smokers want to quit – and we need to do all we can to prevent young people from taking up the habit in the first place.
“The Queensland Government is a world-leader in this field – providing great hope that we can achieve a smoke free future within our lifetime.”
The survey found that between 2002 and 2014 the number of Queensland students who reported smoking a cigarette in the previous 12 months had more than halved from 32 per cent to 15 per cent.
The ASSAD survey has been conducted every three years since 1984 and is a collaboration between Cancer Councils, the Australian Government Department of Health and state and territory health departments.
Around 3700 Queenslanders die from a tobacco-related disease each year. About 370 of these deaths are caused by second-hand smoke exposure.
Smokers are urged to call the Quitline on 13 QUIT (13 7848) for help with quitting.
More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available at cancerqld.org.au or 13 11 20.
For more information or interviews, please contact:
Media and Spokesperson,
Cancer Council Queensland
Phone: (07) 3634 5372
Mobile: 0409 001 171