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Community-based organisations leading the way in prioritising reducing tobacco-related harm

Community health leaders reflect on the importance of reducing tobacco-related harm

Community-based organisations such as Community Health Services, local councils and local public health units play a pivotal role in reducing tobacco-related harm in their local communities. Here we showcase the perspectives of leaders of community-based organisations where action to reduce tobacco-related harm has been prioritised to understand why they have made this commitment.  

Operations Director, Community Health 

Peninsula Health

Tobacco usage remains the foremost contributor to disease and mortality rates in Australia, making it a critical focus for enhancing community health and well-being.  

Peninsula Health is dedicated to providing smoke-free healthcare services, firmly supported by our Smoke-Free Work Environment policy. This comprehensive approach encompasses creating a smoke-free atmosphere, addressing nicotine addiction through clinical management, and providing unwavering support to our dedicated staff and volunteers. 

Notably, Peninsula Health has successfully attained the Smoking priority status within the Healthy Workplace Achievement Program. We proudly belong to The Global Network for Tobacco-Free Healthcare Services, aligning our practices with its evidence-based standards. 

Our commitment to combating tobacco use extends to our innovative Smoke-Free PA System Project, which broadcasts anti-smoking messages at our entrances. A remarkable trial at Frankston's main entrance demonstrated a significant reduction in smoking and second-hand smoke exposure among patients, visitors, and staff, further bolstering our evidence-based approach. 

Peninsula Health's Health Promotion team actively collaborates with local government, sports clubs, and recreational facilities to expand smoke-free environments. For instance, our partnership with Mornington Peninsula Shire in the Smoke-Free Trial encompassed eight smoke-free sites across the Shire, garnering strong community support. Our continued collaboration aims to firmly establish the Shire's Smoke-Free Policy within the community. 

However, it's worth noting that the increasing popularity of E-cigarettes and vaping has presented new challenges, reminding us that there is still important work ahead in reducing tobacco-related harm. 

Manager Health Promotion and Partnerships, Monash Health

Monash Health

Tobacco is one of the largest causes of preventable illness and death in Australia. Reducing tobacco related harm is a key priority for health promotion agencies throughout Victoria.

Supported by Quit, and utilising statewide frameworks such as the Achievement Program and Monash Health's Healthy Sports Clubs framework, the health promotion team at Monash Health works with local settings to reduce smoking and vaping in the community. Last year we supported six early years settings and four sports clubs to progress or complete the Smoke Free areas of their relevant frameworks.

Our cross promotion of QuitVic social media messaging reached in excess of 60,000 community members, and our Monash Health iNews article reached approximately 18,000 Monash Health employees with valuable information about reducing tobacco related harm.

Our work with Monash Health's Smoke-free initiative continues to support development and delivery of important messaging and treatment options for reducing tobacco related harm in Monash Health patients, staff and visitors.

CEO, Ballarat Community Health

Ballarat Community Health

Ballarat Community Health (BCH) is well positioned to support the communities in which we live. Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death, and we have smoking and vaping support services available for people that need it.

The increased use of e-cigarettes by young people and people that have never smoked before is a concern, and in particular, the associated harms for non-smokers, and children.

BCH is a member of the Victorian Network of Smoke Free Healthcare Services (VNSHS) and supports Quitline’s Ask, Advise, Help (AAH) model. This encourages and supports staff to ask our clients about smoking and vaping status and offer early intervention support.

We have also adopted an all of organisation approach. This enables staff and clients to access information and support, including an incentive for staff to quit.

The Health Promotion Unit work in various settings, including a Health Promoting School Framework Model and working towards benchmarks of the Achievement Program. We provide clinical individual smoking and vaping cessation support to staff and the community.

Since commencing this work, our achievements include,

  • Completing the VNSHS audit and working through an implementation plan.

  • Updating our Smoke and Vape Free Policy.

  • Developed a BCH Smoking and Vaping Position Statement.

  • Having RTRH, including e-cigarettes as a standing agenda item on the Safety, Health, and Wellbeing Committee.

  • Piloting the AAH model with a new internal team for future organisational rollout.

CEO, Bellarine Community Health

Bellarine Community Health

While Australia has been proactive in reducing tobacco use, it remains one of the leading causes of preventable illness. Through our health promotion and prevention work, which is aimed at ensuring positive health outcomes for the Bellarine Peninsula, Bellarine Community Health (BCH) has developed a strong understanding of the importance of minimising harm and prioritising tobacco-free living.

E-cigarette use is one of the biggest emerging public health issues. These products are increasingly being used by Australians, particularly younger adults. Our staff are working both internally and externally to support our community to navigate this issue. We have heard directly from our communities about their concerns about the increase in e-cigarette use and access in the local area.

We have been recognised by the Cancer Council Victoria Achievements Program for reaching the Tobacco, Alcohol & other Drugs benchmark. We have used this framework to upskill staff about cessation services, provide professional development and access to reputable information, and updated our signage and policies. We are using our media platforms to communicate accurate information about cigarettes and e-cigarettes to the wider community and to promote cessation services.

We work with local schools to support their needs, including assistance with policy development, signage updates, communication of relevant information, professional development and curriculum ideas.
In addition, we actively contribute to the G21 Regional E-Cigarette & Tobacco Network which upscales and enhances localised work to a population level.

With support from DFFH, VicHealth and Quit Victoria, BCH will continue to prioritise Tobacco Free Living.

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