Smokers defy trend

DESPITE smoking rates decreasing significantly over the past decade, Fairfield still has more people lighting up than the rest of the state.

The most current health data, released in 2013, shows that 17.3 per cent of people living in Fairfield are smokers, compared to the state average of 17.1 per cent.

Natasha McEwan, tobacco control program manager for the South Western Sydney Local Health District health promotion service, said the rate of smoking in south-western Sydney had declined by 8.1 per cent in recent years.

"The rate of smoking in south-western Sydney in 2002 was 24.4 per cent," Mrs McEwan said.

"In 2012 it was 16.3 per cent; a significant reduction."

She said that it is believed there were more people smoking in this region due to socio-economic factors.

"Smoking rates are high among people from low socio-economic groups, Aboriginal people, those who are unemployed, homeless, or imprisoned and those with a mental illness or drug and alcohol dependency.

"The significant decline in smoking prevalence in the general population over the past 40 years has been less evident among the most disadvantaged."

Mrs McEwan said it's all right if people took several attempts to quit.

"Research shows that every time a person tries to quit, their chances of quitting for good increase.

"People should remember what real damage smoking is doing to their lives.

"Half of all long-term smokers will die from tobacco-related disease.

"There is no cigarette without loss — be it a loss to the smoker's family, finances, health or wellbeing."

She said initial evidence showed that plain packaging is influencing people's readiness to smoke in front of others, and the satisfaction a person feels from smoking cigarettes.

"Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in Australia.

"Quitting could mean staying to see children grow up and being able to be there for important family milestones."

Quitline: 137 848.

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