VicHealth was founded with the objective of ending smoking-related illnesses and we continue to work with our partners to achieve the aim of preventing tobacco use.

Our 3-year priority: More people living smoke-free and less harm among resistant smokers

Victoria has been a leader in tobacco control for many years and much of this achievement has been borne out of the longstanding partnership between VicHealth and the Victorian Government to support the activities of the Quit program in tobacco control.

Since the Tobacco Act was introduced to Victoria in 1987, regular smoking rates have dropped from over 32 per cent to just over 13 per cent. Despite this, smoking still causes 4,000 preventable deaths in Victoria every year and costs the economy $5 billion.

International Tobacco Harm Reduction Forum

In July 2014, VicHealth hosted an international Tobacco Harm Reduction Forum in Melbourne. The two-day forum brought together national and international tobacco control experts.

These experts shared their knowledge and experience about tobacco control, tobacco harm reduction and alternative nicotine delivery systems (ANDS), and also discussed new trends in these areas. 

One of the conclusions of the Forum was that there is a considerable level of consensus among the Australian tobacco control community about the potential of tobacco harm reduction within the Australian context, as well as a number of areas that require further development. 

The discussions and findings from the Forum will be used in determining VicHealth’s work in the area of tobacco harm reduction in the years ahead. 

Cultivating smoke-free environments

VicHealth and Quit Victoria support smokefree legislation and policies in public spaces in order to:

  • reduce exposure of non-smokers to secondhand tobacco smoke
  • prevent children being exposed to smoking behaviours
  • support smokers who are trying to quit.

This year, the Victorian Government introduced a smoking ban that applies to the grounds of, and within four metres of an entrance to, schools, childcare centres, kindergartens and preschools, hospitals and community health services, and many government buildings. 

VicHealth and Quit Victoria supported this legislation, which helps protect everyone in the community from second-hand smoke as they go about their everyday lives, as well as reducing the likelihood that children will see smoking as acceptable behaviour. 

Improving the effectiveness of anti-smoking campaigns

With the support of a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) partnership grant and VicHealth funding, Dr Sarah Durkin of the Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer is conducting research to find the optimum levels and types of emotions evoked by anti-smoking ads about the health effects of smoking in the broad population. 

This research also aims to explore the impact of using emotion in anti-smoking ads to best activate quitting motivation and preparation in low socioeconomic smokers. 

Due for completion in December 2015, this research will also provide guidance as to whether message strategies that work with the broader population are equally effective among disadvantaged groups.

30 years of Quit

It’s amazing to think that smoking was so common when Quit Victoria was established 30 years ago that people would light up on aeroplanes, inside restaurants, at their desks at work and even in hospitals. 

“Quit has been – and continues to be – a strong voice in the campaign against smoking. More than halving the number of smokers in Victoria in the past 30 years is a testament to the sustained effort by Quit Victoria and the leadership of VicHealth and Cancer Council Victoria.” 

Minister for Health, The Hon. Jill Hennessy MP

Through VicHealth’s long-standing partnership with Quit Victoria, we have continued to realise significant improvements in the prevention of tobacco-related harms with smoking prevalence among Victorian adults now under 14%. Both VicHealth and Quit are committed to addressing tobacco prevention with an equity lens and tackling smoking in high risk populations.

In 1985, 32% of Victorians were smokers. In 2015, that number has dropped to 13.3%. That's 800,000 fewer smokers and 500,000 fewer premature deaths.

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