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Perception of smoking harm dramatically drops and decades old Emphysema radio ad reboots

Posted 10 May, 2024

“We must not lose sight of the devastating health impacts of tobacco” says Quit director as perception of smoking harm dramatically drops and decades old Emphysema radio ad reboots.

Quit has released important campaigns to combat smoking, off the back of alarming new data from the National Drug Strategy Household Survey. In 2022-23, just 17% of people perceived tobacco as the drug that caused the most deaths, compared to 40% perceiving the same thing in 2007. 

With smoking causing more than 4,4002 Victorian deaths each year, Quit Director, Rachael Andersen says more needs to be done to both remind the community of tobacco harm, and deliver appropriate services to support people quitting.

“Despite smoking being the leading cause of death and disease burden in Australia, worryingly our level of concern about tobacco as a deadly drug has declined since 2007. We must not sit idle and allow more Victorians to become addicted or stay using Big Tobacco’s deadly products,” Ms Andersen said.

To this end, Quit has re-launched its iconic ‘Emphysema’ ad first aired in 2005. The ad significantly raised awareness of the lung disease, emphysema, caused by smoking. Quit’s decision to revive this ad reminds us that the fight against tobacco-caused disease is far from over, even as vaping concerns continue to take the spotlight as a rampant issue especially among young people.

CEO Cancer Council Victoria, Todd Harper AM, was head of Quit when the groundbreaking and memorable ‘Emphysema’ ad was made. He said the decision to reboot the award-winning ad this year was deliberate and driven by community need.

“Tobacco is sold everywhere in Victoria and so the risk of smoking-caused illness remains unacceptably high. With retail licensing soon to be introduced in this state, we’ll know where tobacco is being sold, and be able to ensure retailers are operating legally.

“In the meantime, we’re running our highly successful 20-year-old ‘Emphysema’ ad to remind people of how distressing the illness is, and we’re offering them the support of Quitline and other health professional services to encourage them to quit smoking.”

Designed to drive awareness of the negative impacts of smoking on population health, campaigns ‘Sounds Like’ and ‘Beat the Cravings’ campaigns will work together to motivate and build capacity of Victorians beginning their quitting smoking journeys.

Ms Andersen added it was important for the two campaigns to coincide to motivate and support people who smoke or vape to quit.

“At Quit we have a responsibility to demonstrate the breadth of reasons quitting may benefit someone who smokes or vapes, and to highlight services and effective strategies to support efforts to quit. We know that nicotine is one of the most addictive drugs, and Quitline is here to help the community.”

‘Sounds Like’ – running for the first time in Victoria – was originally developed by Cancer Council Western Australia. The campaign urges people who smoke to listen to their bodies and recognise signs it's time to quit. It showcases some of the serious health impacts of smoking; including coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and bleeding gums. The campaign aims to motivate people who smoke to quit and seek support along the way.

Meanwhile, ‘Beat the Cravings’ focuses on helping people who smoke to overcome commonly experienced craving moments, for example, reaching for a cigarette with a morning coffee, or stepping outside on a lunch break at work. By highlighting actionable tactics during these craving moments and suggesting supports available through Quitline, the campaign aims to build capacity and empower people to quit by beating one craving at a time.

Dr Sandro Demaio, CEO VicHealth said smoking continues to be the leading cause of preventable death and illness in Australia and must remain a public health priority.

“Despite world-leading progress in tobacco control in Australia, we cannot become complacent when it comes to smoking. Campaigns such as these reinforce the fact that smoking is harmful, that quitting is possible, and that help is available.”

The campaigns remind Victorians that supporting people to quit smoking remains a top priority for Quit. Quitline is a free and confidential service that offers personalised advice, encouragement, and access to various quitting tools to help along the journey to becoming nicotine free.

There are many ways to connect with Quitline. You can message us on WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger @QuitVic, live chat through or request a call back at a time that suits you. From Mon – Fri 8am to 8pm qualified Quitline counsellors are ready to take your call and support your quitting journey.

Get in touch with Quitline.

Find out more about our latest Quit campaigns


Media Contact 
Prue Gildea – Quit Senior Media Advisor M: 0400 394 274 E: 

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