BALLARAT residents are still not sold on anti-tobacco advertising, with some even taking up smoking because of it. This is despite a drop in cigarette sales around the country.
“We’re well educated enough about the risks, like everyone, but it’s not like I’ll do it forever,” said Ballarat smoker Daniel, 20.
ABS data released last week indicated a 2.5 per cent drop in cigarette sales in the last quarter, to $3.4 billion worth.
However, Chrissy, 27, said seeing the extreme images on television and cigarette packets now made her want to smoke.
“Seeing the ads makes me think about smoking,” she said. She was also not sold on the effectiveness of plain packaging.
“I don’t really know what I’m smoking any more. There’s not enough information, and so I just go by price now.”
The real focus of these strategies, under threat by funding cuts from the federal government, is people aged 13 to 17, according to Melbourne University Professor of Public Health Rob Moodie.
“It’s about reducing smoking in (that) group. We see the highest levels in places with lower levels of employment, income and education.
“If you take the foot off the pedal, the work comes undone pretty quickly,” he said.
An 18-year-old smoker, who did not want to give his name, said he had been smoking for “a few years”, but saw the anti-smoking ads as a “good reminder” of the dangers of tobacco.
This is the effect Greens senator Richard di Natale said would disappear with the Australian National Preventative Health Agency (Anpha) dissolved into the Department of Health and the removal of $370 million in funding from a National Partnership Agreement on the National Tobacco campaign.
“(These actions) show just how short-sighted these cuts are. If the government wants to target healthcare, this is the way to do it,” he said.
A former GP, Senator di Natale said cutting the smoking rate through education would be felt now, through fewer heart attacks, and later, with fewer cancers and respiratory illnesses emerging.
Speaking with the The Courier recently, Ballarat Health Services chief executive officer Andrew Rowe attributed slower emergency department processing times to Ballarat’s poor “health status”, of which he said smoking was a large part.