'Quit For You, Quit For Me' ads highligh the dangers of smoking during pregnancy. Photo: Julian Kingma
Pregnant women and indigenous Australians are being targeted in a new anti-smoking campaign that comes a month before all cigarettes have to be sold in plain packaging.
The latest statistics suggest one in seven Australian women smoke during pregnancy, and of pregnant teens in 2009, 37 per cent were reported to be smoking.
Almost half of pregnant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders smoked during the same year.
Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek says the campaign is designed to support women rather than shame them into quitting.
''Education and support are the best way forward for helping people give up. We know that tobacco is a very strong addiction,'' Ms Plibersek said. ''I'm sure that most women who are smoking while they're pregnant would like to give up.''
The ''Quit For You, Quit For Two'' ads on TV and radio and in print and social media will highlight the dangers of smoking during pregnancy and point to a new smartphone app.
Other ads are aimed at indigenous communities and the wider public.
The campaigns have been hailed as lifesavers by Cancer Council Australia CEO Ian Olver.
''Tobacco control is the best thing we can do for cancer control,'' he said.
''It's very important not to be punishing people for addiction but to help them give up.''
Government figures show smoking kills an estimated 15,000 Australians each year and costs the country $31.5 billion annually.
The government has pledged to bring national smoking rates down to 10 per cent of the population by 2018.
Professor Olver says tobacco taxes and plain packaging have important roles to play, but it is also worth reminding the public of the health benefits of quitting.
''The first repair is actually within just days, because the lining of the lung starts repairing itself,'' he said.
''Then over time there are slower repair processes and it can take years or decades to return to normal, but every day you quit takes you closer.''
Plain packaging for cigarettes will be compulsory from December 1.