Yesterday the official Australian government news agency published an interesting news story relating to Australian government policy.
The rate of smoking among young people in Australia has dropped to a record low, and there is hope it could be the early signs of a potentially smoke-free generation.
The story then goes onto to talk about various tobacco control measures that have been introduced in Australia. The underlying “news” is a paper published in Public Health Research and Practice. I’m not familiar with the standing of that journal and the paper itself reads more like an op-ed than a research paper.
This paper too makes the claim:
Adolescent smoking is also at a record low, with only 3.4% of people aged 12–17 years smoking daily.
It references the National Drug Strategy Household Survey as its source of information. But the NDSHS shows no such thing. Table 3.4 (excel spreadsheet) of the NDSHS shows the 3.4% figure the paper quotes in 2013, but it shows 2.5% in 2010, and 3.2% in 2007. Now I realise that maths education isn’t what it used to be, but 3.4% cannot be a record low.
Then there is a slight shifting of the goalposts:
Australia has seen consistent and marked reductions in both adolescent (aged 12?17 years) [not true] and young adult (aged 18?24 years) smoking.
It is true to say that up until 2013 the NDSHS did show a downward trend in daily tobacco consumption in Australia. But the authors of this paper are from the NSW Cancer Institute and the NSW Department of Health. One would expect them to be familiar with the NSW data on 18-24 year olds.
That does seem a tad inconsistent with the message they are trying to convey.
If they are trying to stop people under the age of 25 from smoking, then whatever has happened in the last few years (including plain packaging) has failed – certainly in NSW.