Tobacco control in Australia
- 1Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Otago, New Zealand
- 2Harvard School of Public Health, United States
- For correspondence: A Woodward, Department of Public Health, Wellington School of Medicine, Wellington South, PO Box 7343, New Zealand;
What is special about Australia? Sporting teams that usually win, poisonous snakes, and aggressive crocodiles all come to mind. But the country is also a world leader in tobacco control, as signified by the picture on the front cover. The detached eye was one of the iconic images used in a national tobacco control campaign notable for its media emphasis, the range of agencies involved, and the attention to evaluation. This supplement presents an account of the campaign.
To outsiders it sometimes comes as a surprise that Australia is such a loosely bound federation, with a history of differential tariffs, non-converging railway gauges (in the not so distant past), and separate codes of football (still). The States have considerable powers, are responsible for delivery of most health and social services, and for most of the 20th century undertook tobacco control. But it became clear that the scale of the problem demanded a broader view, and in 1996 the Federal government announced there would, for the first time, be a national tobacco control campaign. This would be a collaborative effort (including State and Federal governments and non-governmental organisations such as the Cancer Council), with an emphasis on cessation and the use of the mass media, and would aim to engage principally with young adult smokers (in the 18–40 year age range).1
The campaign was distinctive in many ways. For one, it took a new slant to anti tobacco advertising.2 The designers of the campaign concluded that challenging and memorable images of the harm done by smoking could be made relevant and empowering for smokers who had an intention to quit. This marked a move away from focusing on disease risk, to highlighting the immediate harmful consequences of tobacco. The argument was that these effects would be more difficult to …