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Australian smokers will be extinct by 2030, researchers say

Posted by Nathan Burke on November 5, 2009 at 12:28 PM

SMOKING will be virtually extinct in Australia within 25 years and more frowned upon than spitting in the street, according to researchers who have scientifically mapped the end of the smoking epidemic.


A study by Curtin University in Western Australia suggests that women will be the first to butt out for good.


Statistically, there will be no female smokers in Australia by 2029, while men will take a year longer to kick the habit.


The study coincides with figures that show Australia has the lowest smoking rate of any industrialised country, and possibly the lowest in the world.


Smoking rates in Australia for those aged 15 and over have fallen from more than 70% some 60 years ago to 17.4% last year, according to the Australian Institute of Health. Graphic anti-smoking ads and tough bans on tobacco advertising and smoking in public places have helped drive down Australia's smoking rate.


Figures are considerably higher in Britain and New Zealand, where 27% and 25% of adults smoke.

The highest smoking rate is in the Netherlands, where about one in three people smokes daily.


Professor Mike Daube of the health policy division at Curtin University believes the smoking epidemic will end in Australia by 2030, based on the latest figures, and trends for the past 22 years.


"We're reaching the end of the epidemic and can now predict with some certainty that smoking in Australia will be virtually extinct within the next 25 years," Prof Daube said.


"What we can safely say on the basis of trends since 1983, is if those trends continue then smoking in Australia will be down to zero in 25 years - 2030.


"I think people will be surprised by that and then they will sit back and think 'yep, that could well happen'."


The projection includes the caveats that anti-smoking programmes must be continued and the tobacco industry prevented from advertising or helping to develop policy.


About one in four Australians is an ex-smoker, due mainly to the introduction of some of the world's toughest tobacco regulation.


Smoking is banned in all restaurants and public places in many states, while cigarette advertising and sponsorships are also banned.


From this month pubs and clubs in New South Wales are required by law to provide separate smoking areas ahead of a total smoking ban to be introduced Australia-wide in July 2007.


And with smoking now banned on Bondi Beach, consuming tobacco looks destined to become a habit confined to private places.


by Bernard O'Riordan | The Guardian

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