LIFELONG HABIT: Jenny Ware has been smoking since she was 12 years old.
LIFELONG HABIT: Jenny Ware has been smoking since she was 12 years old. Sarah Steger

'Worst thing I ever did': Wide Bay has highest smoking rate

IN HONOUR of World No Tobacco Day, the Heart Foundation yesterday called on local governments to put restrictions on businesses selling cigarettes.

Wide Bay is tied with Cairns for the region with the highest rate of smoking in Queensland, with 20.8 per cent of adults (35,000 people) smoking every day, according to the Heart Foundation.

This is 10 per cent more than in Queensland (12 per cent) and .2 per cent more than Townsville (20.6 per cent), who had the third highest smoking rate in Queensland.

Heart Foundation advocacy manager Alison Durham told the NewsMail Wide Bay's high smoking rates were one of the many reasons new legislation was being pushed.

"It's about equity. The regions need to have the same advantages as the urban areas," she said.

"We need to look toward strengthening the regions so they have the same campaigns and restrictions as the cities."

Ms Durham said those living regionally were at a disadvantage in terms of access to employment, housing and education.

"We know that the outcome of that is higher levels of smoking and other unhealthy behaviours such as obesity," she said.

The Heart Foundation yesterday called for legislation to restrict businesses that sell tobacco.

Ms Durham said anyone could currently sell cigarettes without applying for a licence.

"At the moment retailers don't need a licence to sell them or pay a licence fee," she said.

"You need a licence to have a dog, but not to sell a product that can kill you.

"So our issue is there's not enough regulation on cigarettes."

The proposed legislation would require a list of merchants selling tobacco to be compiled.

"If a person had a breach, like if they sold cigarettes to a child, they'd risk losing their licence."

Bundaberg Resident Jenny Ware said the legislation, if passed, would not affect her.

"I only go to the tobacco station, so, that wouldn't change things for me," she said.

"But I don't think we should be treated like lepers, which I think is what people are doing."

Mrs Ware started smoking when she was 12 and has been hooked ever since.

"I started in the 60s when it was trendy. It was peer pressure," she said.

And while the health implications and rising costs concerned her, Mrs Ware said they weren't enough to deter her.

"Tell the kids not to smoke. Don't even try it. It's the worst thing I've ever done," she said.

Anyone wanting to quit can visit quithq.initiatives.qld.gov.au or call 137 848.



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