Rate of smokers causes concern

GLADSTONE has one of the highest rates of smoking in the state, according to a Queensland Health report.

The Clean and Healthy Air for Gladstone Human Health Risk Assessment report released last week states that 21.9 per cent of people living in Gladstone smoke compared with 17 per cent for the rest of Queensland.

This means more than 6300 people smoke in Gladstone out of a population of 30,000.

The finding has been listed as a concern by Queensland Health, with the report stating that, “smoking aggravates asthma and is a direct cause of chronic respiratory illness, and can increase the respiratory impacts of some occupational pollutants”.

“Exposure to tobacco smoke contributes to respiratory illness including asthma in children,” the report said. Queensland Health public health physician Dr Margaret Young released the findings last week and said smoking may be part of the reason for excess self-reported symptoms of asthma in adults and children in Gladstone.

“We found high rates of smoking in the Gladstone population,” Dr Young said.

“It's four per cent higher in Gladstone than the Queensland average currently and certainly we know that smoking aggravates respiratory symptoms in adults and children who are exposed to tobacco smoke at home.”

The report also states that the “contribution of cigarette smoking by adults to symptoms in both adults and children to the reported rates of asthma symptoms can not be qualified”.

Queensland Cancer Council spokesperson Anne Savage told The Observer that lung cancer was the number-one cause of cancer-related death in Central Queensland men, and the second in Central Queensland women after breast cancer.

“The annual mortality rate for men and women combined in the CQ region is 40 deaths per 100,000 people compared to an annual rate of 35 deaths per 100,000 people in south-east Queensland,” Ms Savage said.

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