03 November 2014
Cancer Council SA has welcomed an increase in calls to its Quitline service following the State Government’s reinstatement of funding for critical advertising encouraging South Australians to quit smoking.
The State Government announced earlier this year the reinstatement of anti-tobacco advertising from mid-year (after it was cut 12 months earlier) following a drop in people seeking support through the Quitline and an increase in the state’s smoking rate.
While the Quitline saw a gradual decline in the number of people seeking support throughout the 12 month absence of anti-tobacco advertising, data from the first three months of advertising is far more promising.
There has been a 23 per cent increase in calls since the re-introduction of the advertising, compared to when the advertising was off-air.
The advertising also coincided with a 40 per cent increase in first-time callers seeking support to quit.
The Quitline was receiving an average of 155 calls per week prior to the advertising coming back on air and it is anticipated that calls will soon be closer to the 235 average calls per week that were received last year when the advertising was last on air.
Cancer Council SA Chief Executive, Professor Brenda Wilson, said that media campaigns had played a significant role in reducing the State’s smoking rate over the past decade and it was essential for this funding to continue.
“We welcomed the State Government’s decision to reinstate the funding for anti-tobacco media campaigns and we have already seen a positive impact since advertising has been back on air,” Professor Wilson said.
“In the absence of advertising, the Quitline had seen a decrease in the number of people seeking support and we have no doubt this drop would have been reflected in other measures people take to give up smoking.
“It is vital for smokers, and the wider public, to be reminded regularly of the deadly consequences of tobacco use as well as inhaling second smoke. It is also critical to promote the support available for people wanting and trying to quit.
“The evidence tells us that anti-smoking mass media is the most cost effective way of driving down the smoking rates. The adverts encourage smokers to quit; support recent quitters to remain quit and discourages the uptake of smoking.
“Tobacco control media campaigns have been a key driver in reducing smoking rates across the State from 23.6% in 2003 to 16.7% in 2012, and it is no coincidence that rates have increased since advertising ceased mid 2013.
“Tobacco kills around 20 South Australians every week, outweighing total deaths from alcohol and other drugs combined, and tobacco use is estimated to cost South Australia 57,275 hospital bed days annually with a cost to the health system of $24 million.”
With the New Year fast approaching, Cancer Council SA encourages those thinking about quitting as a New Year’s resolution to contact Quitline and start planning to make a change. With the support of Quitline, people can double their chances of quitting.
Anyone wanting support to quit smoking should call the Quitline on 13 78 48 or visit www.cancersa.org.au/quitline