Smoking rates on the decline

THE latest Health of Queenslanders Report has revealed our state is on the way to being smoke-free, with rates declining by 4% each year since 2001.
THE latest Health of Queenslanders Report has revealed our state is on the way to being smoke-free, with rates declining by 4% each year since 2001. Warren Lynam

THE latest Health of Queenslanders Report has revealed our state is on the way to being smoke-free, with rates declining by 4% each year since 2001.

But it seems thousands of people still aren't getting the message including pregnant mothers, young children and almost half of the indigenous community.

The report reveals that44% of indigenous Queenslanders are smokers while the rate is much lower in the overall population where 14.3% are smokers.

Cancer Council Queensland team leader of tobacco programs Rachel Hull said the government was working to reduce the high figures by implementing programs such as Close the Gap and the Break the Chain Campaign and including nicotine replacement therapy on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

"Smoking prevalence in the indigenous community declined from 49% to 45% between 2002 and 2008," she said.

"This progress is encouraging, but more needs to be done as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people remain twice as likely as non-Indigenous people to smoke."

Frighteningly, many pregnant mothers aren't heeding the warnings either, with one in six pregnant women smoking during their pregnancy with the rate jumping to one in two for indigenous women.

"Smoking during pregnancy is linked to having a lower birth weight baby, complications during child birth, and sudden infant death syndrome," Ms Hull said.

And it seems many smokers are starting early with 7.3% of 14-19 year olds reportedly smoking daily.

"Most smokers become addicted during their teenage years," Ms Hull said.

"Unfortunately the younger a person is when they commence smoking the more likely they are to smoke heavily and to become addicted to nicotine."

Topics:  smoking

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