SA worst state for smoking

SOUTH Australia is the worst in the nation at stamping out smoking, the Australian Medical Association says.

The state was handed the humiliating Dirty Ashtray Award by the AMA yesterday for making the least progress in combating smoking in 2008.

A national scoreboard, developed with the Australian Council on Smoking and Health, highlighted SA’s deficiencies, including in the areas of smoking outdoors in public places, smoke-free workplaces and restrictions on tobacco marketing.

The Northern Territory, which usually claims the dubious title, was again ranked lowest, behind SA, for 2008. But the AMA this year has decided the NT’s record is so bad it cannot be judged by the same standard as other states and territories.

AMA federal president Dr Rosanna Capolingua said SA’s result was not good enough.

“It’s disappointing that SA is falling behind the rest of the country when it comes to tobacco control,” Dr Capolingua said.

“SA has made no progress on point-of-sale display restrictions since inadequate laws were implemented in 2007. Funding for tobacco control and public education is inadequate and there is still no comprehensive smoke-free policy across all SA health services.”

Victoria was ranked as the best performer on the 2008 National Tobacco Control Scoreboard, with particular praise for a tobacco-control policy which included a ban on point-of-sale displays.

SA health expert Professor Konrad Jamrozik said that in some areas, SA was stuck in the “20th century, not 21st century”. He said there needed to be smoking bans in alfresco dining areas, throughout sporting stadiums and at major events.

“We are the Festival State and have a whole series of major events in the early part of the year so the default position should be these are entirely smoke-free,” said Prof Jamrozik, a life member of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health and head of Adelaide University’s School of Population, Health and Clinical Practice.

“This is a state with a very large tourism sector, that positions its tourism on fine food and wine, (but) people still find themselves dining outdoors with smoke wafting across their table.

“But they can go into other states and not have that.”

The ACT, Queensland, Tasmania and WA had banned smoking in all public places, he said.

With one person dying every six hours from smoking in SA, he said the State Government needed to invest more in mass media public education about the dangers of smoking.

The criticism comes as health bodies call on governments to take a tougher stand on smoking to mark today’s World No Tobacco Day.

The Australian Lung Foundation is also pushing for a ban on all point-of-sale promotions for tobacco products to discourage young people taking up smoking and assist recent quitters in avoiding a relapse.

The Cancer Council of Australia said the Federal Government should increase the size of graphic warnings on tobacco products.

Dr Capolingua said she hoped the results of the National Tobacco Control Scoreboard would encourage governments to do more to combat tobacco use.

“We need a complete ban on tobacco advertising and tougher laws to protect non-smokers, especially children, from secondhand smoke,” she said.

“The Federal Government should significantly increase tobacco excise beyond inflation and use the proceeds to fund public health programs.”

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