South Australia government releases campaigns to stem rising uptake of vaping and smoking

22 July 2023


The South Australian government will launch a $2 million advertising blitz in an attempt to reduce smoking and vaping rates across the state, particularly among young people.

An eight-week campaign will begin on Sunday over social media, on digital platforms, outdoors and on radio to tackle the uptake of vaping across the state.

It will include advertisements from Australian scientist Karl Kruszelnicki that will target people aged 15 to 25 years old, and parents and carers of children aged 10 to 19 years old.

The advertisements will warn young people about the toxic chemicals found in vapes and the damage they do to lung cells.

The “Do you know what you’re vaping” advertisements will highlight the harmful chemicals found in vapes, such as those found in nail polish remover, bug spray and cleaning products.

The government said e-cigarette use among South Australians aged 15 to 29 had increased from 1.1 per cent in 2017 to 7.8 per cent in 2022. 

It said the highest concentration of outdoor advertisements will appear on Hindley Street because of the prominence of vaping along the popular nightclub precinct.

Health Minister Chris Picton said many young South Australians were unaware about the harmful effects of vaping.

“[Vaping] is something that we are incredibly concerned about from a public health point of view because these are kids … [that] are putting substances in their lungs that they have no idea about,” Mr Picton said.

“The only safe thing to go into your lungs is air, not this batch of other chemicals that are in these vapes, as well as nicotine that makes you addicted.”

Vaping children more likely to become smokers, Cancer Council says

Christine Morris from Cancer Council SA said children who vaped were three times more likely to become tobacco smokers. 

“We know that people get addicted to nicotine when they’re children, and with e-cigarettes that’s happening right now, and we’ve got an increasing number of young people using these products,” Ms Morris said.

A separate campaign targeting smoking will also be released over the next 12 months.

It will include three “powerful” testimonial-style advertisements featuring people who successfully quit smoking.

The state government said the advertisements were developed with Drug and Alcohol Services South Australia (DASSA) and resonated strongly with smokers.

“Smoking still is the number one preventable way, that sadly, South Australians and Australians die and so we need to continue to tackle this and encourage South Australians to take action,” Mr Picton said.

Data released by the state government shows smoking has recently increased in regional South Australia from 11.6 per cent in 2012 to 14.6 per cent in 2022. 

“Having a suite of advertisements that are non-judgemental, that are encouraging and supporting people to quit smoking is really important because smokers don’t need judgement, they need care and support,” Ms Morris said.

Former smoker encourages others to ‘keep trying’

DASSA manager of the tobacco control unit, Clinton Cenko, said the campaign would help inspire people who vaped and smoked to quit.

“The most engaging and most popular elements of our website or information we put out is when we have a short video or show someone’s quitting experience,” Dr Cenko said.

“These are real local people telling their stories and smokers really want to engage with that … they’re really interested in the personal stories of someone who has actually successfully been able to get there.”

Kathryn Pugh, 35, was a smoker for about 15 years. She gave up cigarettes about two years ago when she decided to have a baby with her partner.

Ms Pugh features in one of the state government’s anti-smoking advertisements.

“My partner and I made a decision to have a baby in July 2020 and one of the conditions from my partner was that I quit smoking before we started a family,” Ms Pugh said.

“I went and spoke with my GP, I got in touch with Quit Your Way In May campaign, and I was able to successfully quit smoking after my … 20th attempt.”

She said she hoped the campaign would encourage other smokers to quit.

“My number one message is to keep trying,” she said. 

“There’s no person that says, ‘I’m going to quit smoking,’ and it happens the next day. It takes a lot of time and effort and a lot of false starts to do that.”


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