31 May 2014
This Saturday is World No Tobacco Day and Cancer Council SA and Heart Foundation SA are highlighting the high financial costs of being a smoker as well as the health impact.
From last December, the tax on tobacco increased by 12.5 per cent and this will continue each year for four years.
This year’s increase will see an average packet of cigarettes cost more than $20, costing a pack a day smoker $140 per week and more than $7,300 a year. Over five years, this increases to over $36,000 and blows out to $70,000+ over a decade.
The costs don’t end there - tobacco use is estimated to cost South Australia 57,275 hospital bed days annually with a cost to the health system of $24 million.
An even greater price to pay is highlighted by the fact that smoking kills around 20 South Australians every week and one in two long term users.
General Manager of Cancer Control at Cancer Council SA, Dr Marion Eckert, said the financial and health related costs of smoking continue to add up.
“The financial burden of smoking has an impact on many families and as tax increases kick-in, it is becoming an increasingly expensive, not to mention deadly, habit,” Dr Eckert said.
“We know that price increases are one of the most effective ways of encouraging people to quit, we have seen in the past that the volume of incoming calls to the Quitline increases significantly when price hikes have been implemented.
“The financial toll of smoking has a particular impact in disadvantaged communities where smoking prevalence is much higher than the general population.
“Smoking rates have increased here in SA in the last 12 months, confirming that measures must continue to be introduced to reduce the number of premature deaths from lung cancer and smoking-related diseases.
“The costs of smoking extend well beyond the financial implications, with many family, friends and colleagues left grieving for those taken far too soon.
“Smoking costs lives, provides a major impost on the health system and has a massive impact associated with lost productivity.
“We need to encourage smokers to quit and also deter young people from taking up the deadly habit in the first place.”
“Sadly, around 15,000 people die each year because they smoke. Smoking is a major cause of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack, stroke and peripheral vascular disease,” Dr Amanda Rischbieth, CEO Heart Foundation SA said.
Paul Saffi is one local man who has experienced the impact of smoking on his family first-hand.
“Smoking directly resulted in the cancers that eventually took the lives of three of my family members. Not only where their lives prematurely ended, but the impact on those of us left behind still lingers,” Mr Saffi said
“I think the general public know there are health risks associated with smoking, but they don’t think deeply enough about the consequences.
“I feel it’s vitally important that we focus on the consequences, not just with graphic pictures of damaged lungs or eyes, but also with images and stories of shattered families.
“Quitting means feeling much healthier, redirecting your hard earned money to more positive areas of your life and providing a great example to others that it can be done.
“I still find it difficult to understand why people would knowingly and purposely expose themselves to the myriad of highly carcinogenic compounds in cigarettes. It results in such a tragic and unnecessary loss of so many precious lives.”
Last week Cancer Council SA and Heart Foundation SA welcomed the State Government’s announcement to ban smoking in alfresco dining areas and reinstate funding for critical advertising to encourage South Australians to quit smoking.
“Calling Quitline is one of the best things people can do if they want support with quitting smoking, independent research shows that people who use the Quitline are twice as likely to succeed with their quit attempts,” Dr Eckert added.
“Smoke-free areas send a positive health message to protect the wider community and hence discourage people from smoking in public,” said Dr Amanda Rischbieth, CEO Heart Foundation SA.
“It will enhance protection laws for the community from passive smoking and increase the comfort and amenity of public areas for non-smokers,” Dr Rischbieth added.
Anyone wanting advice on how to quit smoking should call the Quitline on 13 78 48.