Reducing availability of tobacco in Australia

Saving lives through tobacco reduction


Tobacco products remain pervasively and ubiquitously available in the retail landscape, and this is at odds with gains made in most other areas of tobacco control in Australia. The widespread availability of tobacco products normalises their use and there is growing evidence that the presence of these products in stores can undermine cessation efforts.

Longitudinal studies in Australia and the United Kingdom show two out of three smokers will die as a result of smoking if they do not quit, and that smokers die, on average, 10 years earlier than non-smokers. Unfortunately it is those already experiencing poor health and social disadvantage that carry most of the burden associated with tobacco use. The work in tobacco control is not yet done, and much more remains to be achieved to further reduce smoking rates in Western Australia.

There are currently around 3500 retailers licenced to sell tobacco products in WA. This equates to 139 tobacco sellers per 100,000 population in WA. Currently, there is no limit on the number of licences that can be issued, and the licence fees are minimal. There are growing calls internationally and in Australia to reduce tobacco availability, given the magnitude of preventable death and disease caused by this product.

Over the last four years, we have been collaborating with the Cancer Council WA on research relating to the retail availability of tobacco to inform policy measures to reduce access to this harmful product.

PhD Opportunities

Step 1 - Criteria and readings

Check criteria

Research project opportunities are available investigating health inequalities among vulnerable and disadvantaged populations:

  • Barriers and enablers to smoking cessation in vulnerable population groups (e.g. homeless)
  • Health and economic impact of smoking among people who are homeless (potential to use linked hospital data)
The following papers and reports have been published relating to our research in tobacco control – available from Researchgate:
  • Rachele, J.N, Wood, L., Nathan, A, Giskes, K, Turrell, G. (2016). Neighbourhood disadvantage and smoking: Examining the role of neighbourhood-level psychosocial characteristics. Health and Place. 40, pp.98-105
  • Barnes R, Foster S, Pereira G, Villanueva K, & Wood L. (2016). Is neighbourhood access to tobacco outlets related to smoking behaviour and tobacco-related health outcomes and hospital admissions? Preventive medicine. 88, pp.218-223.
  • Wood L, Hooper P, Foster S, Coletsis C, McKie G, Koekemoer R. (2015). Proximity and density of tobacco outlets in relation to Western Australian schools and adolescent smoking. Perth, Western Australia Smarter than Smoking. ISBN: 978-1-74052-3350-6.
  • Wood L. (2014). Public Education Campaigns on Smoking in Western Australia: Their evolution and effects. The Progress of Tobacco Control in Western Australia: Achievements, challenges and hopes for the future. Perth: The Cancer Council of Western Australia.
  • Wood L, Pereira G, Middleton N, Foster S. (2013). Socio-economic area disparities in tobacco retail outlet density: a Western Australian analysis. Medical Journal of Australia. 198(9), pp.489 – 491.
  • Rosenberg M, Pettigrew S, Wood L, Ferguson R, et al. (2012). Public support for tobacco control policy extensions: an analytical cross-sectional study. BMJ Open. 2(e000784).
  • Leavy J, Wood L, Rosenberg M, Phillips F. (2010). Try and try again -qualitative insights into adolescent smoking experimentation and notions of addiction. Health Promotion Journal of Australia. 21(3), pp.208-214.
  • Wood L, Rosenberg M, Clarkson J, Edwards F, et al. (2009). Encouraging young Western Australians to be Smarter Than Smoking. American Journal of Health Promotion. 23(6), pp.403-11.

Step 2 - Submit enquiry

Once you have ensured you meet the eligibility criteria and are ready to discuss a proposal, contact the research team leader to identify a potential supervisor.

Step 3 - Lodge application

After you have discussed your project with the research team leader you should be in a position to proceed to step two of the UWA application process: 'Lodge an application'. Different procedures apply to domestic and international students.

Collaboration partners


 Cancer council logo

Make smoking history logo