Base hospital part of smoke-free pilot program

A PILOT project to curb cigarette smoking will involve Warrnambool’s public hospital, State Health Minister David Davis will announce today.

Seven hospitals statewide will be involved in the Supporting Patients to be Smoke-free initiative, including South West Healthcare (SWH) as the state government bolsters its anti-smoking agenda.

Mr Davis said the program aimed to identify the smoking status of every patient in the state health system.

As part of the pilot program, all patients filing through South West Healthcare’s hospitals will be asked whether they are a smoker and will be provided with information about how to quit the habit.

SWH is not the only regional health group to be part of the project with Ballarat, Bendigo, Goulburn Valley, Wangaratta and Kyabram hospitals all signing up to the initiative.

“About 4000 lives are lost each year in Victoria as a result of smoking and it costs $2.4 billion in direct health costs and lost productivity every year,” Mr Davis said yesterday. 

“There is evidence that brief advice from a health professional, lasting as little as a few minutes, can be highly effective in motivating people to quit smoking. 

“The quit rate is improved further by the provision of cessation therapies.”

SWH chief executive John Krygger said the hospital was delighted to be selected as a pilot site for the statewide initiative.

 “We are aware this campaign has been successfully introduced in New Zealand and this approach sits comfortably with our preventative health focus,” Mr Krygger said.

“If we can assist our patients to cease smoking whilst in our care then hopefully they can continue these good habits when they return home.”

The health minister said the project was part of a raft of government measures to curb tobacco use that had been introduced during the past few years, including smoking bans in a variety of public spaces. 

“We invest millions each year to support quit-smoking programs, anti-smoking advertising, education and enforcement activities,” Mr Davis said. 

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