National Tobacco Control Scoreboard 2018 - AMA/ACOSH Award- Judges' Comments
World No Tobacco Day on 31 May reminded us that, despite remarkable progress, there is much work ahead to achieve a tobacco-free future for Australia.
Learning from the past, we know how important it is to maintain and strengthen action and investment in tobacco control. Complacent attitudes can result in governments losing the momentum in the face of constant efforts by the tobacco industry to promote smoking.
In 2018, we acknowledge government actions that have made cigarette packages so unappealing, and kept the price of tobacco at levels that help to encourage quitting and discourage young people from taking up smoking.
The allocation of $183.7 million over four years to continue the Tackling Indigenous Smoking initiative is highly commended. The Minister for Indigenous Health, Hon Ken Wyatt MHR, deserves recognition for continuing funding for this successful program, as well as Professor Tom Calma AO, National Coordinator of Tackling Indigenous Smoking, for his role in championing the initiative.
Disappointingly, many governments in Australia have fallen back in the crucial area of public education through media campaigns that we know are effective in increasing quit attempts by smokers. There has been no national media campaign on tobacco since 2012.
It is especially disappointing that yet again the latest Federal Budget provides no new funding, although the Government expects to raise more than $11 billion annually from tobacco tax revenue.
This year, there was no A or B rating, consistent with the lack of progress by governments across Australia. Most jurisdictions, including the Australian government, received a C for Complacency rating.
AMA and ACOSH are calling on the Australian, State and Territory Governments to implement the following recommendations:
- allocate adequate funding from the $11 billion tobacco revenue to ensure strong media campaigns at evidence-based levels;
- ban all remaining forms of tobacco marketing and promotion and legislate to keep up with innovative tobacco industry strategies;
- implement tobacco product regulation to decrease the palatability of tobacco products;
- implement comprehensive action, including legislation, in line with Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to protect public health policy from direct and indirect tobacco industry interference, and to ban tobacco industry political donations;
- implement positive retail licensing schemes for all jurisdictions;
- implement best practice cessation interventions and support in all health settings
- ensure consistent funding for programs that will decrease smoking among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and other groups with high smoking prevalence;
- ensure further protection for the community from the harms of second-hand smoke.
Leadership by the ACT Government in protecting the community from exposure to second-hand smoke continues, with an expansion of smoke-free policies to include public transport waiting areas as well as outdoor dining and drinking areas, gaming rooms, and high-roller rooms in casinos.
Strong restrictions on tobacco sales and marketing, including positive licence scheme and bans on point of sale display of tobacco products, price boards, and retailer incentives. The ACT remains the only jurisdiction to have a complete ban on sales of tobacco through vending machines.
The ACT was the first Government to divest from the tobacco industry, and to implement a responsible investment policy.
TOP FOUR ACTIONS NEEDED
- Provide consistent funding at evidence-based levels for strong media campaigns to produce declines in smoking.'
- Provide additional funds to support quitting in groups with high smoking prevalence, such as people experiencing mental health issues and disadvantaged communities. While detainees and staff are only permitted to smoke in designated outdoor areas, a comprehensive smoke-free policy at correctional facilities should be implemented.
- Develop a system-wide program (hospitals, mental health services, GPs, primary care, etc) to ensure patients have their smoking status recorded, brief intervention delivered, and referral to evidence-based smoking cessation support (eg. Quitline).
- Strengthen controls on the sale of tobacco by banning employees under 18 from selling tobacco products.