In a bid to slash smoking rates, improve community health and wellness, and address subsequent Budget leakage, the Federal Government introduced another tax on cigarettes on September 1, 2016.

The announcement prefaces the annual QUIT4october campaign, a collaboration between Lung Foundation Australia and Pfizer, designed to encourage and support people to cease smoking with support from their local healthcare professional (GP and pharmacist).

With an annual ongoing series of 12.5 per cent tax increases, smokers will face an anticipated price rise in cigarette taxes of between $1.30 to $3.35. Those who choose to quit smoking today will most likely save an estimated $6,500 based on the current average price of between $22 to $25 for a pack of cigarettes. Forecasting based on the annual 12.5 per cent tax increase shows the average packet of cigarettes in Australia is set to reach more than $40 by 2020.

While the health consequences of cigarettes are well known, Lung Foundation Australia’s CEO, Ms Heather Allan announced in a statement released September 1, 2016, a price increase on a pack of cigarettes is a proven and effective strategy to motivate smokers to quit.

“Every year, about 15,000 Australians die prematurely from diseases caused by smoking.

“Smokers should not only think about their health, but also about the financial impacts. If a pack-a-day smoker quits, he or she is likely to save more than $6,500 per year,” Ms Allan said.

“There are also immediate health benefits to quitting smoking at any age.

“There are even health benefits to quitting if a person has already been diagnosed with a smoking related disease,” said Ms Allan.

“Stopping smoking decreases the risk of lung and other cancers, heart attack, stroke and chronic disease.”

Ms Allan maintains the tax rise will trigger Australians to stop their dependence on tobacco during QUIT4october.

“The campaign is urging people who want to quit smoking, to visit their pharmacist and GP to discuss best practice smoking cessation and develop a personalised quitting plan.”

Estimates suggest around three million Australians (16 per cent) aged 14 and above continue to smoke, with about 13 per cent smoking daily according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report in 2014.

With research suggesting 75 per cent of smokers want to quit, but only three-to-five per cent of unassisted smoking cessation attempts are successful, Tobacco Treatment Specialist and UNSW Associate Professor, Colin Mendelsohn says research shows the most successful way to quit smoking is with health professional support.

“Only three to five per cent of unassisted quit attempts – what many people call going cold turkey – are successful, compared to 25 per cent of those that use health professional support and stop-smoking medication.

“If people who smoke work with their health professional to achieve their goal of being smoke-free for 31 days, they will be at least five times more likely to become a permanent ex-smoker,” A/Prof Medelsohn said.

To avoid the recent tobacco tax, recruit your family, friends and local healthcare professional to help you quit smoking during QUIT4october month, commencing Saturday, October 1, 2016.