Significant progress has been made in cutting smoking rates and in reducing the burden of tobacco-caused death and disease.
Those achievements were celebrated during a panel discussion organised by the University of Western Australia’s School of Population and Global Health late last week.
The panel was moderated by Denise Sullivan, Director of the Department of Health’s Chronic Disease Prevention Directorate, and comprised Maurice Swanson, CEO of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health; Caitlin Kameron, Legal Policy Advisor with the Cancer Council WA; and Dr Andrew Davies, Founder and Medical Director of Homeless Healthcare.
The event was attended by a lively audience of peers in tobacco control, students and early career professionals interested in learning more about one of public health’s greatest success stories.
“The event provided an opportunity to acknowledge the significant impact of sustained tobacco control efforts over the decades, as demonstrated by the declines in deaths from cancer, heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (emphysema) attributable to smoking. But there is still a lot of work to be done,” Ms Sullivan said.
The panel examined some of these challenges, including the need to strengthen efforts to address the higher smoking rates among some groups in the community, such as the WA prison population and among homeless people.
The panel also expressed concern about innovations of the tobacco industry in developing new nicotine delivery products which are claimed to be safer, but are untested with respect to their possible long term effects on health.