Queensland smokers fined for endangering others
Queenslanders continue to endanger the lives of others, including babies and children, by exposing them to tobacco smoke.
More than 125 fines were dished out last financial year to smokers who decided to light up in smoke-free zones including bus stops, ferry terminals, and within five metres of a building entrance.
A further 141 fines were issued between 1 July 2018 to 31 March 2019 to people smoking in a vehicle with a child present.
Kaye Pulsford, Executive Director of Queensland Health’s Preventative Health Branch, said there was no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke.
“Smoking in a smoke-free zone, whether it’s a tobacco cigarette or an electronic cigarette, is not only illegal but it also puts yourself and others at risk,” Ms Pulsford said.
“Non-smokers exposed to tobacco smoke have a 20–30 per cent higher risk of developing lung cancer when compared with non-smokers who have not been exposed.
“Babies and children exposed to tobacco smoke are at serious risk of SIDS, bronchitis, pneumonia and other lung or airway infections, middle ear disease (glue ear) and asthma.
“I just can’t understand why a caring, responsible adult would smoke inside the confines of a vehicle with a child on board?” Ms Pulsford said.
Cancer Council Queensland CEO Chris McMillan said Queenslanders overwhelmingly believe that non-smokers should not be subjected to second-hand smoke.
“The evidence is undeniable – second-hand smoke kills – at least one Queenslander dies every week from exposure to smoke drift, without ever having smoking a cigarette in their life,” Ms McMillan said.
“Now is the time to take tougher action against the scourge of smoking, to protect our next generation from the deadly impacts of tobacco.”
Queensland Health received 374 complaints from Queenslanders about the minority who smoke in smoke-free places.
“Smokers say they are considerate, well prove it. Don’t litter the environment with your butts and don’t light up where the smoke will impact others,” Ms Pulsford said.
Paolo-Andrea Roberto-Preston from the Sunshine Coast visited Brisbane in June and said he could not escape the pervading intrusion of cigarette smoke.
“This was particularly exacerbated by the awnings over the footpaths which trapped the smoke beneath and meant the impact of the smoke spread over a great distance,” he said.
“It is long overdue that this public health matter is addressed once and for all, to improve public health and enjoyment of a beautiful city. I like so many others, resent having my own health put at risk by inconsiderate smokers.”
Last financial year also saw a total of six prosecutions resulting in more than $7500 in fines.
Queensland Health offers a range of initiatives to help people quit smoking, including tailored support programs through Quitline 13 78 48 and the website QuitHQ https://quithq.initiatives.qld.gov.au/.
“No matter who you are, or how long you’ve been smoking, it’s never too late to become healthier and happier without cigarettes,” Ms Pulsford said.