WITH more than a fifth of our population still lighting up, Echuca Regional Health is supporting the push to target anti-smoking campaigns to regional and rural areas.
Almost 22 per cent of people across Campaspe are smokers; considerably higher than the Victorian average of 13.1 per cent and regional Victorian average of 15.5 per cent.
Of those, 19.4 per cent of us are daily smokers, compared to the Victorian average of 9.8 per cent and regional Victorian average of 12.6 per cent.
And according to the ERH health promotions team, there is no evidence to suggest the rates are dropping.
A spokesperson said, in 2011-12, Campaspe males (27.2 per cent) were more likely to smoke than females (21.7 per cent).
‘‘Research from VicHealth indicated 67 per cent of Victorians supported the implementation of the Victorian Government regulations for smoke-free areas in outdoor areas in restaurants and cafes,’’ she said.
Rural Doctors Association of Australia president Adam Coltzau said while smoking rates across Australia had declined in recent years, rural Australians, particularly those in remote or very remote locations, were continuing to smoke at alarming rates.
‘‘One in five people living in outer regional or remote areas smoke daily, which makes them about 1.7 times more likely to smoke that those in our major cities,’’ Dr Coltzau said.
‘‘Smoking is the single largest preventable cause of death and disease in Australia, and is associated with heart disease, stoke, emphysema, asthma, bronchitis, eye disease, renal disease and cancer.
‘‘In fact, tobacco causes over 2 million deaths from cardiovascular disease alone, worldwide.’’
Dr Coltzau said anti-smoking initiatives had been effective in reducing smoking rates in many areas of Australia, but they had not worked as well in the bush.
‘‘It is time for targeted campaigning, aimed specifically at reducing smoking rates in our rural population, to help manage this ongoing health crisis,’’ he said.
‘‘We want to see governments across Australia tackle this issue and concentrate on reducing smoking rates in rural areas.’’
If you need help to quit smoking, talk to your GP, call the Quitline on 137848 or go to www.quitnow.gov.au