Call on WA Government to commit to making tobacco control a priority

Posted 29 Jun 2021.


We are calling on  the WA Government to commit to making tobacco control a priority, with new data revealing that the tough approach on tobacco has saved around four lives a week from death due to lung cancer since 1982.

Our Cancer Prevention and Research Director, Melissa Ledger, said new research1 conducted by researchers at The Daffodil Centre, the University of Sydney showed thousands of West Australian lives have already been saved and will continue to be saved by a tough approach to tobacco.

"Over the last four decades, Australia has implemented numerous tobacco control initiatives, including tobacco excises, bans on tobacco advertising, smoke-free legislation, plain packaging, point-of-sale legislation, and state and national public education campaigns," Ms Ledger said.

"While these initiatives have been relentlessly opposed by tobacco companies and their front-groups, our research has shown that because of these tough measures, more than 7,200 West Australians have been spared a tobacco-caused lung cancer death in the past 35 years.

"Looking to the future, due to the lag time between tobacco exposure and lung cancer deaths, it is estimated that without tobacco control, more than 76,000 West Australians would die from lung cancer between 2017 and 2050.

"However, despite the successful tobacco control initiatives that are currently in place, about half of lung cancer deaths will not be averted. This means that continued commitment to tobacco control needs to remain a significant public health priority for the WA Government.

"On current trends, Cancer Council WA estimates that by 2050 we should be able to see that tobacco control initiatives until 2016 prevented around 150,000 tobacco-caused deaths in Western Australia since 20172. While that is a staggering number of real people and real lives, we can still do much better. With 11.9 per cent of West Australians aged over 14 still smoking daily3, unless governments step up and maintain their commitment to tobacco control, we still face unacceptable numbers of preventable tobacco-caused deaths now and into the future."

Ms Ledger said a recent survey4 conducted by Cancer Council WA found that the overwhelming majority of West Australians are in favour of tobacco control initiatives.

"Our survey found that almost 90 per cent of West Australian adults, including both smokers and non-smokers, support creating more smoke-free places," she said.

"Around three quarters of West Australian adults surveyed are in favour of making places such as Rottnest Island, Kings Park, and Elizabeth Quay completely smoke-free, while 70 per cent of non-smokers and 40 per cent of smokers surveyed are in favour of phasing out the sale of tobacco in WA, with only 13 per cent opposed.

"Decision makers cannot continue being complacent while tobacco smoking continues to be the leading cause of preventable death and disease. We urge the State and Federal governments to commit to saving thousands of lives by making tobacco control a priority."

For more information

Individuals who are thinking of starting their quit journey can access support to quit by:

1 Luo Q, Steinberg J, Grogan P and O'Connell D. Lung cancer mortality in Western Australia: Projected outcomes to 2050. Unpublished research prepared for Cancer Council WA, 2021.
2 Peto R, Lopez AD, Pan H, Boreham J, and Thun M. Mortality from smoking in developed countries 1950 - 2020. 2015. Available from:
3 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2019. Drug Statistics series no. 32. PHE 270. Canberra AIHW, 2020.
4 Lizama N and McDonald A. Attitudes towards smoking and tobacco control among Western Australian adults: A community survey. Cancer Council WA, 2021.

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