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Winning the war on cigs

Thursday, 6th June, 2019

FWLHD Student midwives Annique Fabien and Chelsea Massey can help locals looking to flick their smoking habit before starting a family.PICTURE: Myles Burt FWLHD Student midwives Annique Fabien and Chelsea Massey can help locals looking to flick their smoking habit before starting a family.PICTURE: Myles Burt

By Myles Burt

The Far West has been butting out bad habits as smoking rates continued to slowly fall since 2002, according to the FWLHD.

With a variety of materials and help networks for smokers to quit, Health Promotion officer Siobahn Graham said Far West residents seem to be moving in a positive direction.

“It seems like more people are avoiding tobacco in the first place, so that messaging is coming across that tobacco is harmful,” Ms Graham said.

“We have the whole of Western NSW and Far West Local Health District data, and we have around 5 per cent of people under 18 that smoke.

“Which is pretty good compared to metro areas like Sydney where it sits around 10 per cent.

“We’re pretty good on the whole, (but) we could be a lot better.”

The FWLHD have targeted programs such as the Give Up Smoking program (GUS), which helps people looking to start a family to quit smoking before becoming pregnant. 

“We want to make sure any babies we bring into the world come in the best possible way,” Ms Graham said.

“The midwives at the hospital do an awesome job with that.”

However, the FWLHD primarily encourage locals looking to quit smoking to find assistance from other help services in town.

“But we generally direct people to Quitline because it’s a free service, or a GP or pharmacist,” Ms Graham said.

“We try and avoid people getting to a point where they need a hospital, we try and get them that primary care setting.”

The FWLHD has 360 hospital admissions a year for smoking-related illnesses. It puts pressure on staff and resources to combat illness that could be prevented.

“We acknowledge that it’s highly addictive and it can be incredibly difficult to quit, but it’s well worth it,” Ms Graham said.

“On the whole, the pressure is to people that are exposed to second-hand smoke as well, so people living with asthma or other respiratory conditions are susceptible as well. 

“If you can smell the smoke, you’re breathing it in.

“It’s probably one of the catch cries we use the most, and it’s easy to remember.”

Ms Graham said NSW residents were lucky to have comprehensive laws to protect the general public from being exposed to second-hand smoke. 

“To outdoor eating, smoking in cars with children under 16 is illegal, public transport stops, taxi ranks, entrances to public buildings, it’s all prohibited to smoke there,” Ms Graham said.

“Especially being football season and soccer season, sports grounds in NSW are also smoke free for any kind of training or game.

“It carries a $300 on the spot fine if you’re caught anywhere.

“If you’re going down to the Jubilee Oval for a game there, you’re not allowed to smoke anywhere on the ground.”

However, laws shouldn’t be the sole incentive as Ms Graham encourages locals to be supportive of friends and family members that smoke by getting them to chat to their GP about quitting and by making their house smoke free.

Those looking to quit smoking can look to their GP, pharmacist, an Aboriginal health worker or Quitline for assistance.

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