Through the 1990s Quit organisations working across Australia cooperated extensively with materials being shared or adapted where possible. However it was not until 1997 that a truly national campaign, galvanising the collective expertise and resources of all Australian Quit campaigns and the Commonwealth, was launched.
The National Tobacco Campaign was developed as steady reductions in smoking prevalence observed through the 1980s and early 1990s were stalling.8 In 1995, the Australian Government allocated research funds towards regaining the tobacco control momentum. In 1996, a commitment was made to pool the extensive tobacco control expertise and resources in Australia to develop a collaborative national anti-smoking campaign.9 Managed by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care with advice from a Ministerial Tobacco Advisory Group chaired by Professor David Hill, the National Tobacco Campaign was launched in June 1997 with funding of more than $7 million across two years. The added support from state-based organisations meant the total investment in the first six-month phase of the National Tobacco Campaign was approximately $9 million.10 With the advent of the National Tobacco Campaign, funding for tobacco-control programs in Australia increased from 26 cents per adult in 1996 to 55 cents per adult in 1998 and continued at 49 cents per adult in 2001.11
The Australian Government contributed 75% of the $4.5 million spent on advertising in the initial phase of campaign activity (June–October 1997). In subsequent phases of the campaign, states and territories contributed more: by 2000 the Australian Government contribution was estimated at $2.18 million compared with $3.29 million from state and territory Quit organisations.12
The National Tobacco Campaign targeted smokers aged 18–40 years. It is Australia's most intense and enduring mass media tobacco-control campaign. One of its great strengths was the collaboration in its development and operation between the national, state and territory governments and non-government organisations.
The primary objective was to elevate quitting on smokers' personal agendas.