Commit to Quit


snapping a cigarette in half

Each year May 31 is World No Tobacco Day. This year the World Health Organisation (WHO) launched its 'Commit to Quit' campaign, which aims to support the estimated 100 million people worldwide who currently smoke to quit in 2021.

In NSW 1 in 10 adults are daily smokers. Tobacco smoking is still the leading cause of disease and premature death in NSW and Australia. The WHO says that tobacco is responsible for one death every four seconds.

Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, 69 of these are known to cause respiratory disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease and endocrine disorders.

There is also no risk-free level of exposure to second-hand smoke. Studies show that for people living with a smoker, their risk for developing cancer increases from 20 to 30 per cent.

Immediate and long-term benefits of quitting

According to the WHO:

  • After just 20 minutes of quitting smoking, the heart rate drops
  • Within 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in the blood drops to normal
  • Within 2–12 weeks, the circulation improves and lung function increases
  • Within 1–9 months, coughing and shortness of breath decrease
  • Within 5–15 years, the stroke risk is reduced to that of a non-smoker
  • Within 10 years, the lung cancer death rate is about half that of a smoker
  • Within 15 years, the risk of heart disease is that of a non-smoker

Check out the WHO's More than 100 reasons to quit tobacco.

Getting help

It is never too late to quit. While quitting smoking can be difficult and will come with challenges, free professional and community support is available to help you. The NSW Cancer Institute's iCanQuit website provides information on quitting methods, links to support groups and top tips to help you choose the quit smoking method best for you.

You can also get immediate help from the following services:

  • Call Quitline on 13 7848 (13 QUIT) for information and advice about quitting, assessment of your nicotine dependence, strategies on preparing to quit and staying quit.
  • The Aboriginal Quitline is also available on 13 7848 (13 QUIT). Run by Aboriginal Advisors, the Aboriginal Quitline is a telephone-based confidential advice and support service.
  • My QuitBuddy is an app for iPhone, Android and Windows developed by Quitline. The app helps you set goals, celebrate quit milestones, track the money you've saved from cutting cigarettes and games to distract you from cravings. The My QuitBuddy app is available free for download.

For more about the effects of second-hand smoke visit the NSW Health page Harms of tobacco smoking and second-hand smoke.

If you are supporting someone who is quitting tobacco, visit the How to Help Somebody Quit Smoking page for information and resources.

The environmental cost of tobacco

The WHO reports that approximately 300 billion cigarette packs and more than 6.3 trillion cigarette butts are littered into the environment every year. That is 1,800,000 tonnes of waste.

Clean Up Australia's annual Rubbish Report shows that cigarette butts account for the most commonly collected rubbish item. In 2018 they collected approximately 7 billion cigarette butts, more than chip and confectionery wrappers and plastic bottles combined.

Discover more about Tobacco and smoking control in NSW.

Find out more about the effects of smoking on the A-Z of Drugs | Tobacco page and contact Quitline on 13 7848 (13 QUIT) for information and advice about quitting.

For free and confidential advice 24/7 call the Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) on 1800 250 015. Counsellors are available to provide information, referrals, crisis counselling and support. Or start a Web Chat with an ADIS counsellor online Monday to Friday, 8.30am – 5pm. ADIS can also provide up-to-date information about service availability in your area during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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