Less use and harm from tobacco, alcohol and other drugs
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Tobacco smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Australia.
Smoking tobacco leads to respiratory disease, cancer and heart disease.
Alcohol and other drug use in the community can cause harm to communities, families, and individuals. These include injury, chronic conditions, mental health problems, road trauma, violence and criminal offences.
How big is the problem?
- While smoking rates in Tasmania are declining, people living in disadvantaged areas are more than twice as likely to smoke as people from advantaged areas.
- Smoking during pregnancy also remains a significant health problem in Tasmania.
- Almost half Tasmanian adults drink alcohol at risky levels.
- Youth, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and homeless people are most at risk from alcohol use.
- Cannabis is the most common drug used. Tasmania has the second-highest rate of use of all States and Territories.
- The use of other illegal drugs, and incorrect use of pharmaceutical drugs remains stable. Illegal and multi-drug use is associated with social disadvantage, social dislocation, child abuse and neglect.
- Pharmacists and medical practitioners in Tasmania are recognising an increasing number of people who are misusing opioids, especially codeine. This can lead to hospitalisation and even death. Tasmania has one of the highest rates of opioid prescribing of any state or territory in Australia.
What are the barriers?
- Psychological, social, economic and cultural factors contribute to tobacco, alcohol and other drug use.
- People adversely affected by disadvantage and stress tend to use these substances more than the broader community.
- Cultural norms and the settings we live in also have an influence.
- Some Australians regard drinking as the cultural norm.
- Many may not realise they are consuming unsafe amounts of alcohol.
What can we do?
- Health promotion, prevention, early intervention, treatment, and recovery focused approaches.
- Evidence-based mass media campaigns and other communication tools can motivate people to quit smoking and discourage its uptake.
- Reducing the affordability of smoking through pricing policy leads to less smoking in the population.
- Co-designed programs, partnerships, and incentives to quit smoking are required in disadvantaged communities where smoking is still prevalent.
- Plain packaging has been an effective way to reduce smoking rates, as well as stopping advertising, promotion, and sponsorship of tobacco.
- Support for tobacco retailers to voluntarily transition away from selling tobacco is needed and stronger regulation is required for novel and emerging products like e-cigarettes.
Learn more about smoking.
Alcohol and other drugs
- Effective mass campaigns as part of broader strategies to prevent harm.
- Ensure the availability and promotion of alcohol is restricted to minimise harm, particularly for children and young people, including through digital media.
- Education for the health workforce is important so they can be confident in identifying, supporting, and referring people to support pathways for those experiencing alcohol and drug related harm.
- Other successful ways to address drug use include reducing supply; addressing the social determinants associated with illicit drug use; screening, assessment, and early intervention strategies.
Learn more about alcohol and other drugs.
Further links and guidance
- Tasmanian Tobacco Control Plan
- National Tobacco Strategy 2020-2030 (not yet available - in development)
- The National Alcohol Strategy 2019-2028
- The National Drug Strategy 2017-2026