Today, on World No Tobacco Day, I encourage all smokers to call the Quitline and download the My Quitbuddy app to help them quit.
Smokers who do so will be in good company – between January and May this year, the My Quitbuddy app was downloaded more than 24,000 times, a staggering 310 per cent increase over the same time last year.
These figures are very encouraging and I congratulate those who have taken the first step. Quitting is not always easy, but assistance is available and the benefits are significant.
There is growing evidence that smokers are more likely to develop a severe case of COVID-19 if they contract the virus. However, there is currently insufficient evidence to conclude whether smoking – either cigarettes or e-cigarettes – increases a person’s susceptibility to contracting the coronavirus.
Tobacco use is a major cause of cardiovascular disease, at least 16 types of cancer, respiratory disease and type 2 diabetes, and COVID-19 patients with these health conditions can suffer worse outcomes.
Irrespective of the relationship between smoking and COVID-19, quitting smoking at any age is beneficial to a person’s health. There is no safe level of tobacco consumption.
Quitting smoking also has the potential to reduce the demands on Australia’s health system – now and into the future.
We have had significant success in reducing smoking in Australia. Smoking rates have declined significantly over the past two decades, from 22.3 per cent in 2001 to 13.8 per cent in 2017.
The Australian Government aims to reduce smoking rates further, to less than 10 per cent by 2025 through the 10-year National Preventive Health Strategy and has committed $31.6 million over four years from 2019–20 to reduce smoking prevalence.
This includes $20 million over three years to develop a new National Tobacco Campaign to encourage smokers to quit.
The campaign will increase people’s understanding of the benefits of quitting smoking, the health impacts of smoking and promote the support tools available to help people quit.
The Government will continue to work hard to help Australians quit and stop them from ever starting.
For further help to quit smoking:
• Talk to your GP.
• Phone the Quitline on 13 7848.
• Visit www.quit.org.au
• Download the free My Quitbuddy app.
Facts and Figures
• The theme of World No Tobacco Day this year is Protecting Youth from Industry Manipulation. It will help shine a light on the myths and expose tactics tobacco and related industries use to attract younger generations to this deadly habit.
• If we can stop young people from using tobacco products, we will set them up for a much healthier life.
• Smokers are more at risk of serious illness if they become infected with COVID-19. Smokers are more likely to have lung damage or lung disease, which greatly increases the risk of serious illness should they contract COVID-19. When someone smokes, their fingers make contact with their lips. This may increase the chances of transmitting the virus from their hand to their mouth.
• The health benefits of quitting are clear. Twelve hours after quitting, the carbon monoxide level in the bloodstream drops to normal. Two weeks after quitting, your lungs natural cleaning system starts to recover and improve. Between one to nine months, coughing and shortness of breath decrease and – most importantly – your immune system begins to recover.
• In 2015, tobacco use killed almost 21,000 Australians.