Smoking kills Victorians as young as 30

Christine McGinn

Victorian smokers would be foolish to think youth is on their side when it comes to avoiding death, a new analysis of health data reveals.

Almost 180 Victorians, aged 30 to 49, died from tobacco-related diseases in 2011, while 393 Victorians in their 50s died from smoking in the same period, the Australian Burden of Disease Study data reveals.

Quit Victoria director Dr Sarah White says it's been known for decades that "tobacco is deadly", but there's now proof cigarettes are killing people at an earlier age than most realise.

"Every single one of these deaths could have been prevented," Dr White said.

"These aren't just numbers, they're people who have left behind young children, partners, friends and family. We must continue to take action to deter people from starting to smoke and to help people to quit."

More than 4400 Victorians died from smoking in 2011 - more than triple the number of alcohol-related deaths, which include road traffic accidents, assaults, self-harm and chronic disease, the data reveals.

Dr White said public education campaigns were essential to educate people about the "serious, life-threatening risks associated with smoking" and not be fooled by businesses' marketing campaigns.

"The health consequences of smoking will catch up with them, and it might be sooner than they realise," she said.

Victoria's health department chief preventive health officer Bruce Bolam said more needed to be done to prevent tobacco-related diseases and reduce the cost on the community.

"Smoking is still the leading preventable cause of death and disability in Victoria, accounting for eight per cent of the total disease burden. No other modifiable risk factor puts as much strain on Victoria's healthcare system as tobacco," Dr Bolam said.

In 2011, smoking killed:

* 24 Victorians in their 30s

* 155 Victorians in their 40s

* 393 Victorians in their 50s.

* 4427 Victorians in total.

Source: Data from the Australian Burden of Disease Study 2011 published in the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2016. Analysis by the Health Intelligence Unit of the Victorian Department of Health & Human Services from April 2018.