Around three quarters of adults in Queensland are still exposed to second-hand smoke in public places on a weekly basis despite the state’s extensive smoking laws, a new study has found.
Cancer Council Queensland, Heart Foundation Queensland and Asthma Australia’s Smoke-free Places Survey found that 76 per cent of people reported being exposed to second-hand smoke every week in public places.
Exposure to second-hand smoke can have a detrimental effect on health and wellbeing, increasing the risk of some cancers, heart disease and other chronic conditions.
Cancer Council Queensland CEO Ms Chris McMillan called on the State Government to lead the implementation of stronger smoke-free laws and enforce legislation to better protect Queenslanders from the harmful effects of tobacco.
“While Queensland’s smoke-free laws are some of the toughest in the country, we still have a long way to go to protect our communities from the dangers of smoking and second-hand smoke,” Ms McMillan said.
“There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke – and this survey gives us clear evidence that Queenslanders are aware of the dangers and ready for progress in this area.
“Respondents expressed overwhelming support for proposed smoke free places, with 93 per cent supporting a smoking-ban at markets, 92 per cent supporting a ban in tertiary education facilities and 91 per cent a ban in town squares.
“It’s our priority to advocate for stronger tobacco legislation reforms through the extension of statewide smoke-free places in Queensland.”
Ms McMillan said two thirds of people also reported seeing people smoke in areas where smoking is banned.
“It’s vital that smoke-free legislation is supported through strong public communication and enforcement, and we would welcome further action in this area to maintain our smoke-free environments and protect our community,” Ms McMillan said.
“Those who smoke or are exposed to second-hand smoke are at a much greater risk of developing chronic diseases, including heart disease and some cancers, and those with asthma can experience worsening symptoms.”
Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Australia. In Queensland alone around 3700 people die from a tobacco-related disease each year and two per cent of those deaths are caused by second-hand smoke exposure.
Heart Foundation Queensland CEO, Stephen Vines, said the survey results confirmed popular support for smoke-free zones in Queensland.
“While Queensland has led the charge with legislation we now need to make sure this is backed up with compliance,” Mr Vines said.
“Regularly breathing in other people’s smoke can increase your risk of heart disease by 30 percent.
“The most vulnerable people are the elderly and children, and we need to do our best to protect them from exposure in public places.”
Asthma Australia Ltd CEO Michele Goldman also voiced her support for policy change to protect all Queenslanders, including children.
“Asthma Australia calls for stronger tobacco legislation reforms in regard to smoke-free environments to protect the 1 in 9 people with asthma from unnecessary symptoms, or worse an asthma flare-up requiring urgent medical care.” Ms Goldman said.
The Smoke-free Places Survey surveyed 2600 Queensland adults aged 18 and over.
Smokers can obtain free information, practical assistance and support from Quitline, 13 QUIT (13 7848).
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