Date published: 
31 May 2021
Media type: 
Media release
General public

With approximately 20,000 Australians dying each year from tobacco-related illness, the Australian Government is investing $3 million through Cancer Council Victoria towards a new national best practice support service for nicotine cessation to ensure health professionals have up-to-date evidence-based resources.

Additional initiatives in the 2021–22 Budget aimed at encouraging people to quit smoking include the expansion of telehealth and face-to-face services to support patients’ access to general practitioner consultations.

Research shows having the support of a health professional greatly improves a smoker’s chances of successfully quitting.

There has never been a better time to quit smoking. The World Health Organisation notes that smokers face a 40-50% higher risk of developing severe disease and death from COVID-19. Quitting smoking now could reduce the severity of disease for anyone who contracts COVID-19.

There is also strong evidence that quitting smoking improves mental health, reducing depression, anxiety and stress.

We know from the Australian Bureau of Statistics surveys that 13.8% of Australian adults smoke tobacco daily. However, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people this rate is more than double, 37%, making it the leading contributor to disease.

Smoking causes half of all deaths among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults 45 years or older. Reducing tobacco use in this population continues to be a public health priority.

The Tackling Indigenous Smoking program commenced in 2010, and has contributed to cutting the daily smoking rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from around 50% to 37%.

The Institute for Urban Indigenous Health, a service provider for the Tackling Indigenous Smoking program, is the winner of a World Health Organization’s World No Tobacco Day 2021 award for the Deadly Choices program, recognising its achievements in tobacco control.

Quitting is not always easy, but assistance is available and the benefits are significant. It is never too late to stop smoking. The younger you are, and the sooner you stop, the better. It is also best never to start.

For help to quit smoking:

  • talk to your trusted health professional
  • call Quitline - 13 78 48
  • visit, and
  • download the free My Quitbuddy app.

World No Tobacco Day is an initiative of the World Health Organization and has been celebrated on 31 May since 1988.

Former ministers: