In East Perth on World Tobacco Day, the two groups launched their campaign calling for “the unjust burden of tobacco disease to be shifted from disadvantaged groups”.
The partnership came as the Australian Medical Association and Australian Council on Smoking and Health (ACOSH) released its annual national scorecard, which showed WA was making progress in reducing tobacco-smoking rates in many areas.
However, Cancer Council WA’s Make Smoking History Manager Kelly Kennington said it was important to remember that while the smoking rate was now 12.7 per cent and on the decline among the general population, this was not the case amongst disadvantaged groups.
“There is unjust burden of disease, death and financial stress among the most vulnerable members in our community due to their high smoking rates and this is an area we are specifically targeting,” she said.
“People who live in low socioeconomic areas are three times more likely to be a daily smoker compared to someone in a higher socioeconomic area. In addition, people living in remote and very remote areas are twice as likely to smoke daily which means they have a greater number of chronic health condition and a lower life expectancy.
“The Cancer Council partnership with St Bartholomew’s House is part of a research project with Curtin University that will evaluate interventions to ensure that clients are regularly offered support to cut down and quit smoking tobacco.”
St Bartholomew’s House chief executive John Berger said the partnership reinforced its efforts to ensure everyone had access to the right support to quit smoking.
“A large number of our client group smoke and we can see how this not only affects people’s health, but finances and self-esteem,” Mr Berger said.
“The circumstances that many of our clients face will make it more likely that they are smokers with many doing so from a young age and they face more barriers when trying to quit.
“In turn, high rates of smoking contribute to the stress of meeting daily living costs which can prevent people from securing food, accommodation, education, employment and a stable and fulfilling life, but this does not need to be the case.”
ACOSH executive director Dora Oliva said non-government organisations and the community sector were leading the charge in WA when it came to addressing smoking in those groups that carry the largest burden caused by tobacco.