WIMMERA healthcare groups have welcomed a Quit Victoria campaign to dramatically decrease the state’s smoking rate.
Target 2025 aims to decrease daily smoking rates to five per cent by 2025.
Quit Victoria estimates reaching this target would save the economy $4.042 billion over the next seven years, and countless lives.
In 2015–16, smoking cost the Victorian economy $602 million in healthcare costs.
Statistics show 13.7 per cent of people in the state smoke each day.
Quit Victoria estimates 450,000 of the 730,000 Victorians who currently smoke will die prematurely.
Stawell Regional Health chief executive Libby Fifis said a smoke-free Victoria would have significant benefits for the Stawell community, which had a smoking rate of 16.6 per cent.
“Smoking is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease. It is not surprising that the rate of cardiovascular disease in the Stawell catchment – 10.1 per cent – is also higher than the rest of Victoria at 8.9 per cent,” she said.
“The demand for cardiac rehabilitation and pulmonary rehabilitation programs at Stawell Regional Health is growing, and we know that many hospital admissions are considered preventable and are related to chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease.
“Prevention efforts such as the Quit Victoria campaign are essential to reducing the rates of chronic disease and improving short and long-term health outcomes of our community.”
Rural Northwest Health community health manager Ngareta Melgren said 67 of the people admitted to the service’s acute hospital in the past 12 months were smokers. A further 160 people who had given up smoking in the past year were admitted.
“There is change happening out there,” she said.
“I don’t think it’s that people don’t know the risks of smoking – that information is out there. It’s that it’s highly addictive and therefore hard for people to give up.
“Smoking is a lifestyle choice, as is what you eat and how much you exercise.
“It comes down to a point of readiness for change.
“It’s about how do we as health services and workplaces support people to get to a point where they are ready to quit.
“We need to bridge that gap between people knowing the risks and being ready to take the steps to quit, because unless people are ready to change, it won’t happen.
“If there are changes made at a legislative level that’s fantastic. But we need to marry that with helping people overcome their addition in a supportive way, and create an environment at a community level to support those changes.”
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