The next two years are shaping up as the biggest opportunity in recent history to get Victorian smoking rates down, if the success of smokefree legislation in New York is anything to go by.
According to a report from Tobacco-Free Kids in the US, the percentage of New Yorkers over eighteen who smoke has dropped to an all time low of 18.1% in 2004, down from 20.8% in 2003.
New York State has been enjoying smokefree workplace legislation since July 2003, with workers and patrons in bars, clubs, nightclubs and restaurants in New York State all breathing easier as a result of the new laws.
Quit Victoria's Executive Director, Mr Todd Harper, said the fall in New York's smoking rates was especially promising considering Victoria is about to enter an 18-month period of significant change in smokefree environments.
""Between now and July 2007 workplaces, public transport waiting areas and licensed venues are all becoming smokefree, and this represents a massive opportunity to get smoking rates down in Victoria.""
""New York's success in reducing smoking rates shows that by making more public areas smokefree you can have a significant and positive impact on smoking rates, and as a result, the health of the whole community.""
Mr Harper said the increase in smokefree areas, combined with the introduction of graphic health warnings on cigarette packets, and tougher restrictions on tobacco marketing could inspire a steady decrease in smoking rates from the end of next year.
""The introduction of graphic health warnings means that every time someone buys a pack of cigarettes they will be exposed explicitly to the harms of smoking, and then once again, each time they reach for a cigarette.""
“These important changes will be backed up with media campaigns highlighting the dangers of smoking and providing smokers with encouragement to call the Quitline, so we would hope to see real inroads being made to ease the devastating toll of tobacco within the next five years,” said Mr Harper.
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