Cancer Council Queensland has called on the State Government to ban smoking in designated public places, with new research revealing 10 Queenslanders die every day from smoking-related illness and disease.
The data was disclosed by Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young in an interview with ABC Queensland, ahead of the release of the Chief Health Officer’s report later this year.
Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said smoke free spaces would help to end the death toll.
“10 deaths every day is a tragic figure that dwarfs other causes of preventable and premature deaths,” Ms Clift said.
“About one death a day is caused by second-hand smoking, a heartbreaking statistic that reinforces the need to protect people from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.
“State Government action on smoking has been strong, but smoke free spaces are desperately needed.
“We know that the majority of Queenslanders support smoke free spaces and want protection from the lethal effects of smoking.”
Statistics suggest smoking rates in Queensland have halved over the past 25 years, a trend the Cancer Council attributes to Government actions.
“Historical declines in smoking rates are a credit to the State Government, with thanks to bans on smoking in pubs, clubs, and restaurants,” Ms Clift said.
“More recently, smoking has been further denormalised by retail display bans, a ban on smoking in cars carrying children, and no smoking outside school gates and on hospital grounds.”
However, Cancer Council Queensland has cautioned that the latest data confirms much more needs to be done.
“New Queensland Health data has found a sharp increase in the prevalence of smoking among Queenslanders aged between 25 and 34 years old over the past two years.
“This trend defies the declines we have seen in other age groups, with 28 per cent of men in the 25-34 age bracket now smoking every day, compared with 19.8 per cent in 2012.
“Among women in the 25-34 age bracket, the rate of smoking has increased from 12.8 per cent to 16.7 per cent.
“If we don’t arrest this alarming trend, a significant number of young Queenslanders will have their lives cut short by smoking.
“We need strong action to continue for the health of all Queenslanders. The next step towards a smoke free Queensland requires no smoking at bus stops, taxi ranks, ferry terminals, and in pedestrian malls.
“Smoke free spaces in State legislation will protect people from the harmful effects of smoking, encourage more smokers to quit, and prevent more young people from taking up the lethal habit.
“The majority of the community is seriously concerned about smoking and we would welcome the State Government’s response.”
Currently, around 500,000 people smoke each day in Queensland.
“The State Government’s recent smoking campaigns have proven effective, but campaigns must go hand-in-hand with legislated smoke free public environments.
“Ensuring smoke free spaces will further accelerate the successful tobacco control measures introduced in this state.
“The sooner we have smoke free spaces, the faster we will get to a smoke free future and end the tragic death toll of tobacco,” she said.
Smokers can obtain free information, practical assistance and support from Quitline, 13 QUIT (13 7848), or join the QUEST to quit at www.quest.org.au.
For more information or interviews, please contact:
Katie Clift, Executive Manager, Media and Spokesperson, Cancer Council Queensland
Ph: (07) 3634 5372 or 0409 001 171