South Aussies are butting out

By Melissa Keogh

South Australian youth are shunning cigarettes at never-seen-before rates, according to recent figures by the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI).

Institute data shows that more young people are choosing to not light up, with the number of South Australian smokers aged 15-29 dropping from 17% in 2015 to 12.3% in 2016.

SAHMRI says this rate, along with a 15% rate of ‘adult’ smokers aged 15 years and over, is the lowest “ever recorded” in South Australia.

Dr Caroline Miller, SAHMRI’s Population Health director, says the all time low is a result of anti-smoking media campaigns and tax hikes on cigarettes.

Heavy health warnings and smoke-free public areas have also caused the dip, she says.

“Tobacco is a deadly product which kills two in three long-term users,” Dr Miller says.

“By staying focused on driving down smoking rates, encouraging quitting and preventing young people from starting, we are reducing the enormous preventable burdens of heart disease and cancer, saving thousands of lives in South Australia.”

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Adelaide woman Sue Scott, 55, has been smoke-free for almost 12 months, after a 30-year affair with cigarettes.

Sue says she used to puff on an average of 25 smokes per day out of habit and boredom.

With help from her GP and a switch up of her daily routine, she has quit for good.

“I had a cup of coffee and did a crossword on my iPad in the morning instead of having a cigarette,” Sue says.

Her advice for teens and young adults?

“If you don’t smoke, don’t start,” Sue says.

Substance Abuse Minister Leesa Vlahos says more than 1100 South Australians die of smoking-related causes every year.

“This latest data show excellent progress and our efforts to reduce smoking are continuing to work, as more people heed the message to quit smoking for good,” she says.

“There is still more work we can do and we will do.”

Want to butt out? Call Quitline on 137 848 or head here.