Recently we’ve had two separate cases of pro-choice/smoking voices telling us that smoking is increasing, and by implication that health campaigns are failing.
Both claims have taken a bit of a beating as further results have come in.
First of all in Scotland there were many raised eyebrows over the seeming reluctance of the adult smoking rate, as measured by the annual Scottish Household Survey, to continue its long-term decline. With a minimal decrease in 2012, followed by a slight increase in 2013, had we reached the limits of our intervention?
The 2014 figure was released last week and showed the biggest annual decline since the Scottish Household Survey began, taking Scotland’s smoking rate down to 20%.
The same claims were made in 2012 when the similar, but smaller, Scottish Health Survey, showed an increase to 25%, but these disappeared when the 2013 figure dropped down to 21%.
These sample-based surveys do show variations from year to year, so are best suited to monitoring long-term trends. But the long-term trend in the graph above is pretty clear.
In Australia the introduction of plain, standardised packaging was greeted with tobacco industry warnings that the smoking rate would increase, followed by assertions that it had.
Nice then so see the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, showing tobacco consumption “plunging”.
Yes it’s early days, and you can never prove exactly what it is that has caused tobacco consumption to plunge. But consumption of tobacco in Australia is going down at a very healthy rate, that much is clear.