Australian smoking-related cancer deaths to increase 32% by 2044ACTA
Despite the expectation that mortality rates will decline in future, a growing and ageing population will still see total numbers swell.
New research estimates the overall number of deaths from smoking-related cancers is set to increase by nearly a third in the coming decades.
The study, produced by Cancer Council NSW and the University of Sydney, predicts cigarette smoking will cause more than 250,000 cancer deaths in Australia from 2020–44, even though mortality rates for smoking-related cancers for both males and females are expected to decline over this period.
The increase in overall deaths has been attributed to Australia’s ageing and growing population.
Professor Karen Canfell, senior author and Director of the Daffodil Centre said the study indicates that smoking will cause around one in five cancer deaths during the 25-year period.
‘Smoking remains the leading preventable cause of cancer mortality by a wide margin,’ she said.
‘While most of the projected mortality burden related to smoking will occur in lung, oesophageal and respiratory sites, there are many other organs, including the pancreas, liver and bladder, where fatal cancers caused by smoking will develop.
‘Due to the lag between smoking exposure and cancer deaths, historical exposure is also a factor, highlighting the need for both improved tobacco control and new approaches to early detection, including emerging opportunities in targeted lung cancer screening.’
While Australia is considered a ‘best practice’ country when it comes to tobacco control, the decline in smoking rates has stagnated at around 14% in recent years. Aside from the health impacts, it is also estimated to cost the country around $137 billion each year.
Anita Dessaix, Chair of the Cancer Council’s National Public Health Committee and Director of Cancer Prevention and Advocacy at Cancer Council NSW, says the new research sends an urgent message to political leaders.
‘We have known for decades that tobacco control is one of the most effective public health interventions, yet we face 250,000 smoking-caused cancer deaths due to complacency in policy reform and a lack of anti-smoking campaigns in recent years,’ she said.
‘Anti-smoking campaigns have been one of the most effective public health measures in Australia. The landmark National Tobacco Campaign saved 55,000 lives in its first run alone in the late 1990s and delivered direct savings to government well above the initial investment.
‘Sadly, it has been more than a decade since our last national tobacco campaign. Therefore, we need urgent action from the Federal Government if we want to have any chance at avoiding just some of these preventable cancer deaths.’