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About this chapter

This chapter of the National Cancer Prevention Policy is currently undergoing a significant review and is being updated by Cancer Council Australia’s expert Tobacco Issues Committee.  

The chapter review is expected to be complete during 2024.  

Cancer Council’s current priorities to reduce tobacco use to less than 5% are outlined below. 

Cancer Council welcomes the commitment in the National Preventive Health Strategy to reducing smoking rates to below 5% by 2025. However, on current trends (with adult smoking rates still above 13%), this target will not be achieved unless the strongest evidence-based measures are implemented. 

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of cancer burden in Australia, attributable for an estimated 20,933 deaths in 2015.1 An estimated 22% of cancers in Australia in 2015 were attributable to tobacco use.2 Up to two out of every three deaths in current smokers can be attributed to smoking.3 

Policy priorities

1. Revive Australia’s National Tobacco Campaign 

Priority: An increased investment in hard hitting mass media campaigns to $44 million per year for at least three years. 

2. Implement the National Tobacco Strategy 

Priority: Adequately fund the implementation of all components of the National Tobacco Strategy at levels that will achieve change. 

3. Strengthen efforts to reduce tobacco use in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities 

Priority: Ensure long-term funding and support for community-led programs and partnerships that reduce tobacco use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. 

4. Harmonise excise/customs duty on roll your own (RYO) tobacco and standardise pack and pouch size 

Priority: Standardise pack and pouch size and further increase excise/customs duty on RYO tobacco over next four years, so it is closer to equivalence with duty on factorymade cigarettes.

5. Regulate flavouring, packaging, social marketing and retailing to reduce attractiveness, addictiveness, and accessibility of tobacco products to young people 

Priority: Stop tobacco companies from selling tobacco products that are flavoured, packaged, promoted, or retailed in ways that make them more palatable, addictive, affordable or accessible to young people. 

6. Protect young Australians from the marketing and sale of e-cigarettes 

Please contact Amanda McAtamney to be updated on when the revised policy is available or if you have any questions.  


  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Australian Burden of Disease Study: Impact and causes of illness and death in Australia 2015. Canberra: AIHW; 2019. Report No.: Series no. 19. Cat. no. BOD 22. 
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Cancer in Australia 2019. Canberra: AIHW; 2019. Report No.: cancer series no. 119. Cat. no. CAN 123. 
  3. Banks E, Joshy G, Weber MF, Liu B, Grenfell R, Egger S, et al. Tobacco smoking and all-cause mortality in a large Australian cohort study: findings from a mature epidemic with current low smoking prevalence. BMC Medicine. 2015;13(1):38.