Praise from doctors after a smoking participation rates drop

THE planet today celebrates World No Tobacco Day, and the World Health Organization is promoting Australia's plain packaging initiative across the globe in a bid to fight the smoking scourge.

Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service Public Health Physician Margaret Young said the news on smoking participation was good.

"Smoking rates have fallen across the Wide Bay and Queensland, especially among adult males," Dr Young said.

"A number of factors will have contributed to this trend, including plain packaging, messaging about harms of smoking, increased restrictions on where people can smoke, and cost."

Smokers are also learning the benefits of giving up are immediate in some cases.

"In the hours and days after quitting, the health benefits of quitting smoking include blood pressure dropping, oxygen levels in the blood increasing and taste returning," Dr Young said.

"Within three weeks of quitting, the heart attack risk starts to fall.

"However, it is too early to look for measurable impacts at a Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service level as these impacts are only measurable over longer time frames."

She also expressed alarm at the continued high levels of pregnant smokers.

"In 2006, 24.4% of women smoked during pregnancy, and about 20% continued to smoke after 20 weeks gestation. In 2011, 23% of pregnant women were smokers after 20 weeks gestation."



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