Despite extensive smoking laws in Queensland, a new study has revealed that around three quarters of adults are still exposed to second-hand smoke in public places on a weekly basis.
Cancer Council Queensland, Heart Foundation Queensland and Asthma Australia’s Smoke-free Places Survey found that 76 per cent of people reported being exposed to second-hand smoke every week in public places.
Cancer Council Queensland CEO Ms Chris McMillan said the survey shows there is a need for tougher smoke-free laws to better protect Queenslanders from the harmful effects of tobacco.
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“There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke – and this survey gives us clear evidence that Queenslanders are aware of the dangers and ready for progress in this area,” she said.
“Respondents expressed overwhelming support for proposed smoke free places, with 93 per cent supporting a smoking-ban at markets, 92 per cent supporting a ban in tertiary education facilities and 91 per cent a ban in town squares.
“It’s our priority to advocate for stronger tobacco legislation reforms through the extension of statewide smoke-free places in Queensland.”
Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Australia. In Queensland alone around 3700 people die from a tobacco-related disease each year and two per cent of those deaths are caused by second-hand smoke exposure.
Heart Foundation Queensland CEO, Stephen Vines, said the survey results confirmed popular support for smoke-free zones in Queensland.
“While Queensland has led the charge with legislation we now need to make sure this is backed up with compliance,” Mr Vines said.
“Regularly breathing in other people’s smoke can increase your risk of heart disease by 30 percent.
“The most vulnerable people are the elderly and children, and we need to do our best to protect them from exposure in public places.”
Asthma Australia Ltd CEO Michele Goldman also voiced her support for policy change to protect all Queenslanders, including children.
“Asthma Australia calls for stronger tobacco legislation reforms in regard to smoke-free environments to protect the 1 in 9 people with asthma from unnecessary symptoms, or worse an asthma flare-up requiring urgent medical care.” Ms Goldman said.
The Smoke-free Places Survey surveyed 2600 Queensland adults aged 18 and over. Smokers can obtain free information, practical assistance and support from Quitline, 13 QUIT (13 7848).