Tobacco smoking is widely known as the leading cause of preventable diseases and death in Australia, but almost 12% of adults still smoke daily. On average, these smokers puff more than twelve cigarettes per day.
Official statistics show it’s not all bad news, with the rate of smoking declining steadily over the last three decades.
Three in four young adults have never smoked, and men are still smoking more than women.
E-cigarette takeup more than doubled in Australia between 2016 and 2019.
The Northern Territory has the highest rate of daily smokers, and the ACT the lowest, with NSW in the middle.
Not surprisingly, there’s a direct correlation between socio-economic disadvantage (and all its accompanying stresses) and cigarette smoking.
In terms of economic impact, the total net cost of smoking in Australia each year was recently estimated at $136.9 billion, of which $19.2 billion is tangible costs (tobacco, workplace costs, reduction in economic output) and a whopping $117.7 billion is made up of intangible costs.
These include things like the value of life lost and pain and suffering caused by smoking-related ill-health, and premature mortality.
Of course the actual costs to directly affected loved ones are pretty much incalculable.
Quitting the habit
Giving up smoking can be very difficult, but the benefits start almost immediately.
In twelve hours, excess carbon monoxide is out of your blood. In five days most of the nicotine is out of your body. In a week your sense of smell and taste improves.
From there, the benefits really start to accelerate. In twelve months, your risk of heart disease has halved. In three months, your lung function and blood flow will be much improved.
In five years, your risk of stroke will have gone way down; in ten years your chance of lunch cancer will be less than half of what it was when you smoked, and in fifteen years your risk of heart attack and stroke will be almost the same as a person who has never smoked.
In addition, those around you will experience clear benefits from having no second-hand smoke to deal with, and your financial situation will be much healthier too.
For most people, quitting is much easier with assistance, from family, friends and health professionals.
For smokers wanting to quit, whether it’s the first or tenth attempt, pharmacists such as your local Blooms The Chemist can offer smoking health check services, such as consultations and creation of a quit smoking plan, or advice about whether vaping is a better alternative.
However you go about it, a smoke-free future is a heathier option for everyone.