Figures released today reveal that smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in every local government area in Victoria.
The data prepared by The Cancer Council Victoria and covering the period 1999-2002, details lives lost to smoking in each and every local government area throughout the State.
Smoking-caused deaths in every area of the state outstrip deaths caused by illicit drugs, alcohol, and road deaths.
Eight of the ten local government areas with the highest level of smoking-caused deaths are in regional Victoria.
Data released today shows that on average out of every 1000 deaths in Victoria: 122 are caused by smoking 25 are caused by alcohol 14 are caused by road deaths 5 are caused by other drugs, including heroin.
The data includes deaths caused by lung cancer and other smoking-caused cancers, heart disease, stroke, chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
Victoria's peak health bodies today expressed their concerns about the devastating toll of smoking in Victorian communities.
The Cancer Council Victoria, the Heart Foundation (Vic Division), the Australian Medical Association (Victoria), the Asthma Foundation of Victoria, the Australian Drug Foundation, Diabetes Australia, the National Stroke Foundation, SIDS and Kids Victoria and the Centre for Adolescent Health all urged parliamentarians to consider the impact of smoking in their own communities and urged them to consider further steps to reduce the overwhelming harms of tobacco, including removing the display of cigarette packets at retail outlets.The coalition of health groups also applauded proposed amendments to Victoria’s Tobacco Act, including smoking bans in licensed premises and enclosed workplaces and bans on some forms of tobacco industry marketing.
Director of the Cancer Council of Victoria, Professor David Hill, welcomed proposed legislation to reduce the impact of smoking saying the data released today shows that smoking is an issue that affects every single Victorian community.
""Smoking is a major health issue with significant costs to the community. We believe the proposed legislation is a positive step to address the health problems caused by tobacco, and builds on initiatives in recent years.""
Quit Victoria's Executive Director Todd Harper said, “This data shows smoking is consistently the leading cause of preventable death in every local government area and provides a unique snapshot into the human tragedy associated of tobacco.”
“Each number in the data released today represents a Victorian who has died, on average, 13 years before their time, leaving behind family and friends.”
“While we have seen a lot of progress in the recent years in relation to tobacco control, these figures show there is still more to be done.”
Victorian President of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Sam Lees also expressed his concern about the data, calling for more to be done to prevent children from taking up smoking.
“Every day, medical practitioners across the state are at the coalface of smoking-caused disease, dealing with the health affects of tobacco.”
“Tobacco kills more than 4000 Victorians every year, and the fact is that most of these deaths will occur in people who started smoking before the age of 18 years.”
“Smoking-caused deaths in every area of the state outstrip deaths caused by illicit drugs, alcohol, and road deaths. We must make every conceivable effort to prevent children from taking up this deadly, and addictive habit.”
The Heart Foundation’s Executive Director, Robyn Charlwood, called for the removal of cigarette displays at point of sale, referring to a recent study showing young people are amongst those most likely to be influenced by the display of products at point of sale.
“We must do all that we can to reduce the uptake of smoking in children, and to move forward in that process we must remove the tobacco products currently displayed at the point of sale, often in venues frequented by children.”“Banning tobacco product displays is vital in reducing exposure to tobacco marketing, with bans at the point-of-sale already introduced in Canada and similar legislation passed in Iceland and Ireland. Health groups are now seeking the same provision here.”
“The Heart Foundation strongly urges all members of Parliament and the Victorian community to do their utmost to ensure that Victorian children do not become smokers and collectively take action to reduce the immense burden of disease caused by cigarette smoking.”
NOTE FOR MEDIA OUTLETS
Data for specific local government areas is now available at: www.quit.org.au/tobaccotragedyends Edwina Vellar,
ph: (03) 9635 5400
mob: 0417 303 811