Urgent action needed to fight tobacco’s tragic toll on tradies

Trade workers are at a greater risk of smoking-related illness and disease than white-collar professionals, prompting Cancer Council Queensland to call for sector-wide action against smoking.

The call coincides with National Tradies Health Month (August 1-31).

Cancer Council Queensland CEO Ms Chris McMillan urged employers, unions, and trade workers to make trade workers’ health and wellbeing a priority.

“Trade workers are a living national treasure and we need to do all we can to support them with quitting smoking,” Ms McMillan said.

“Current estimates suggest about one in four trade workers smoke, a much higher rate than the Queensland average of 12 per cent.

“Half of all Queensland smokers have a trade qualification or diploma – demonstrating the disproportionate risk carried by our tradies.

“Smoking not only impacts individual tradies, but can also create a workplace social culture of smoking, increasing the risk that non-smokers will take up the lethal habit and exposing other tradies to the dangers of second-hand smoke.

“The evidence is undeniable – smoking and second-hand smoke kills – at least 10 Queensland smokers die every single day from smoking-related illness and disease, and at least one Queenslander will die every week from exposure to smoke drift, without ever having smoked a cigarette in their life.

“Thousands of Queensland tradies are at high risk of avoidable disease and death because of the tragic toll tobacco takes on our trades sector.”

Ms McMillan called on employers and unions to help promote a smoke free future for Queensland tradies.

“It’s vital that workplaces promote pathways for quitting, including Cancer Council Queensland’s QUEST program and the Queensland Government’s QUIT initiatives,” she said.

“This must go hand-in-hand with other smoke free strategies to discourage smoking and reduce uptake, especially among younger tradies who may be more vulnerable to social influence of older workers.

“The benefits of quitting are many – after just 72 hours a person’s sense of taste and smell starts to improve and after one year of being smoke free a person’s risk of heart disease will be halved compared with those who continue to smoke.

“After 10 years a person’s risk of lung cancer will be about half that of someone who smokes and their risk will continue to decline.”

About 12 per cent of Queensland adults smoke daily – down from 14 per cent in 2014 – with the majority of smokers wanting to quit.

Workplaces and tradies can get support with quitting via cancerqld.org.au/quest or by calling 13 QUIT (13 7848).

A free Workplace Quit Smoking Program is also available via workplaces.healthier.qld.gov.au.

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available at cancerqld.org.au or 13 11 20.

For more information or interviews, please contact:
Laura McKoy,
Media Manager,
Cancer Council Queensland
Phone: (07) 3634 5345
Mobile: 0409 001 171