The cost of smoking, obesity and the harmful consumption of alcohol to our health system and to workplace productivity is crippling. It is the main focus of the new National Preventative Health Strategy.
The figures are mind-blowing. The overall cost to the health system from these three risk factors is $6 billion a year, while lost productivity is estimated at $13 billion.
The new national strategy, launched by the Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon in early September, recommends a range of interventions aimed at reducing the chronic disease burden associated with obesity, tobacco and alcohol. The strategy will be co-ordinated and driven by a new National Prevention Agency.
Behind the statistics are human stories and the strategy sets ambitious targets to prevent the premature and unnecessary deaths of hundreds of thousands of Australians. They include:
Preventative strategies have been hugely successful in Australia when they have been implemented.
In the 1950s, three-quarters of Australian men smoked. Now less than one-fifth of men smoke and deaths in men from lung cancer and lung diseases have plummeted.
Similarly, there has been a dramatic reduction in road deaths – 80% since 1970 – following the introduction of seat belts.
The Taskforce that compiled the strategy concedes that previous attempts to deal with the impact of alcohol, smoking and obesity were not fully implemented or implemented at all. It proposes following a similar pathway to campaigns to reduce road trauma and smoking when ‘progressive, staged and comprehensive actions have been the hallmarks of success’.
The report was warmly welcomed by the Australian Nursing Federation and medical organisations.
The staggering cost of grog, smoking and obesity
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