Reducing and minimising the harm from tobacco, alcohol and other drugs

Reducing the harm associated with drug use – legal and illegal - requires a range of responses.Working in Health Promoting Ways Diagram These should include health promotion, prevention, early intervention, treatment and recovery focused approaches.

Impact and scale of the issue

Tobacco smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Australia. Smoking rates in Tasmania are declining; however, the high rate of male smokers is a concern.

Excessive consumption of alcohol can cause chronic disease, injury and premature death. Almost half Tasmanian adults drink alcohol at risky levels.Cannabis is the most common drug used in Tasmania; we have the second-highest rate of use of all jurisdictions. The use of other illicit drugs, and pharmaceutical drugs used illicitly, remains fairly stable in Tasmania.

Health inequity and alcohol, tobacco and other drug use

People from disadvantaged areas are more than twice as likely to smoke as people from advantaged areas and smoking during pregnancy remains a significant health problem in Tasmania, particularly in disadvantaged areas.

Among those most at risk from alcohol use are youth, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and homeless people.

Illicit drug use and multi-drug use is associated with social disadvantage, social dislocation, child abuse and neglect and parental drug use during pregnancy and early childhood.

Evidence that health promotion action can bring about change

Reducing the harm caused by tobacco smoking requires preventing the uptake of smoking, helping people quit, eliminating exposure to tobacco smoke and reducing the harm associated with continuing smoking.

Evidence suggests the best way to reduce alcohol related harm is to reduce alcohol consumption across the whole population to share the benefits equally.

Successful interventions tackling the associated problems of illicit drug use include: reducing supply; addressing the social determinants associated with illicit drug use; screening, assessment and early intervention strategies.