HEALTH PLAN: Bundaberg man Daniel Knoessl said he thinks quitting smoking should be a personal decision people make not the government.
HEALTH PLAN: Bundaberg man Daniel Knoessl said he thinks quitting smoking should be a personal decision people make not the government. Geordi Offord

Endangered species: Bundy smoker on lifestyle choice

PEOPLE like Daniel Knoessl are an endangered species.

Daniel is a smoker.

A new health initiative aims to drastically reduce the number of smokers across the country over the next decade.

This week federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announced a 10-year health plan to cut the national smoking rate to below 10 per cent.

The Chief Health Officer's latest report found 16 per cent of Wide Bay residents were daily smokers.

The figure was much higher than the state average.

The report also found 22 per cent of Wide Bay women smoked during pregnancy.

Mr Knoessl said while it was a good thing for the government to have plans in place, he believed the decision to quit smoking should be up to the individual.

"It's a personal choice, it's up to people what they do with their bodies,” he said.

"I think for a lot of people smoking is a social thing, it's just something you do.

"I haven't really tried quitting myself, I'm still enjoying it, but if I begin to stop liking it or it starts affecting my health I probably would consider giving it up.”

Wide Bay Public Health Physician Dr Margaret Young said while the figures were alarming, smoking rates across the state were on the decline.

She said there were programs out there for people looking to kick the habit.

"We want people to know there is help available to quit smoking. No matter who you are, or how long you've been smoking, it's never too late to become healthier and happier without cigarettes,” she said.

"Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service has been working in partnership with Queensland Health, community organisations and other government departments, to reduce the numbers of people who smoke or use other forms of nicotine and have implemented a number of strategies and initiatives.

"This has included support for cessation programs and public education campaigns to encourage behaviour change. Queensland also has some of the toughest smoking laws in the country.”

Dr Young said Wide Bay residents are eligible for greater support to quit smoking through the Queensland quit line.

The service includes multiple support calls and three months of nicotine replacement therapy.

If you need help to quit, call 13QUIT (13 7848) or visit the QuitHQ website.



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