(Left to Right) Ingo Steppat (Manager WNSWLHD Environmental Health Unit, Lyndal O’Leary (Manager WNSWLHD Health Promotion Unit) and Priscilla Stanley (Acting Director WNSWLHD Population Health)

(Left to Right) Ingo Steppat (Manager WNSWLHD Environmental Health Unit, Lyndal O’Leary (Manager WNSWLHD Health Promotion Unit) and Priscilla Stanley (Acting Director WNSWLHD Population Health)

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Every 4% reduction in tobacco smoking saves 3000 lives in Australia each year. Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) recently launched their Tobacco Strategic Plan which provides a framework for action to improve the health and wellbeing of local communities.

Acting Director of Population Health at WNSWLHD, Priscilla Stanley said while progress has been made in reducing the rates of smoking, 18.2% of residents in WNSWLHD still reported they smoked, which is significantly higher than the NSW state rate of 13.5%.

“There are over 48,000 smokers across Western NSW. More than half of this number will die early as a direct result of smoking,” Ms Stanley said.

“Our recently launched Tobacco Strategic Plan outlines future directions and actions we will take over the next six years to reduce smoking rates and subsequent harm from smoking. It brings together local and state initiatives from a range of working areas that have a vested interest in seeing smoking rates decrease.”

Health Promotion Manager, Lyndal O’Leary said the Tobacco Strategic Plan has five key priority areas including smoke-free environments, community education and promotion, community programs, smoking cessation services and monitoring and research.

“The Plan is adaptable to meet the needs of the community and can accommodate new directions in tobacco control as new evidence becomes available,” Mrs O’Leary said.

“Many people from the Western NSW Local Health District and other organisations assisted in the development of this Plan, and we would like to thank them for their input and expertise in helping reduce smoking rates in our area,” Mrs O’Leary said.