Healthy Communities - Reducing Tobacco Related Harm
Why is reducing tobacco use important?
Tobacco use is the leading contributor to disease and death burden in Australia. In Victoria alone, smoking claims about 4400 lives each year. 20.1% of Greater Geelong residents are smokers. The 3214 region has the second-highest number of smokers in Australia with 32.8% of resident’s smoking.
What are we doing?
The Healthy Communities Unit works in the primary prevention space to address smoking. By working with our community nursing and mental health teams, we aim to reduce uptake of smoking and encourage behaviours that seek help to stop smoking applying the following strategies:
- Decrease the number of environments where people smoke or are exposed to second-hand smoke
- Increase community capacity to stop smoking and access stop smoking services and supports
- Engage the community to de-normalise smoking and vaping behaviours
Give Smoking Away this May
The Healthy Communities Unit is developing a campaign in partnership with our Be Smokefree clinicians, Mental Health clinicians and a range of community representatives to encourage smokers to understand their smoking behaviours and seek qualified support to help them quit. We are bringing a deeper understanding of the mental health components and impacts on smoking behaviours in order to produce messages that encourage action at whatever stage of the quitting process people are ready for, in a non-judgemental, supportive environment.
Compared with the general population, people with mental illness have higher smoking rates, higher levels of nicotine dependence, and a disproportionate health and financial burden from smoking. The Healthy Communities team is working closely with our Mental Health service to address the barriers faced by people with mental health concerns to stop smoking, and improve access to support services.
In 2008/09 the social costs of smoking on the Victorian community were estimated to be $6.8 billion, including $870 million of lost productivity in workplaces and households6. There are many reasons for workplaces to go smokefree. The Tobacco Act 1987 (Vic) prohibits smoking in all enclosed workplaces. Smokefree environments and policies reduce the harmful health effects from smoking and second-hand smoke exposure, improve local amenity and protect the environment and your staff, as there is no level of exposure to second-hand smoke that is free of risk.9
The Healthy Communities Unit is supporting workplaces to participate in The Healthy Workplaces Achievement Program, which provides access to an online portal which contains practical tools, (e.g. surveys, templates and resources) and information to make healthy workplace changes.
Vaping is the act of using an e-cigarette, or ‘vape,’ which is a lithium battery-powered device that uses a cartridge filled with liquids, or ‘juice.’
While long-term health effects are unclear, we know that vaping in the short-term has been associated with nausea, vomiting, mouth and airway irritation, chest pain and heart palpitations.
It is difficult for consumers to know what e-cigarette products contain. For example, some e-cigarettes marketed as containing zero percent nicotine have been found to contain nicotine.3
Curtin University research1 raises serious concerns about the safety of these products and their risks to the respiratory health of young people.
- 100% of the e-liquids were inaccurately labelled.
- 100% contained chemicals with unknown effects on respiratory health.
- 21% contained nicotine despite this being illegal in Australia.
- 62% contained chemicals likely to be toxic if vaped repeatedly.
Australian health organisations, including the Australian Medical Association, Cancer Council Australia and the Australian Council on Smoking and Health, have published the following messages:
- There is insufficient evidence to promote the use of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation.
- There is increasing evidence of health harms.
- E-cigarettes are marketed to attract young people.
- E-cigarettes should be more properly regulated.18
The Healthy Communities Unit is investigating our regional needs and potential partnerships to address this area of concern.
Last Modified: Thursday, 25 August 2022