Western Victoria smokers sit above the national rate

Rates of smoking vary considerably between areas including Warrnambool, Moyne and Corangamite.

Rates of smoking vary considerably between areas including Warrnambool, Moyne and Corangamite.

Average smoking rates in western Victoria are higher than the national average, however, data shows rates vary considerably between local government areas.

Western Victoria Primary Health Network 2016 data showed the national average rate for smoking was 16 per cent, with a higher rate of 19 per cent recorded for western Victoria.

Warrnambool and Southern Grampians performed better than the wider region, with rates of 11.4 per cent and 12.2 per cent respectively, while Moyne sat just above the national average at 16.7 per cent.

More smokers were shown to live Corangamite, which recorded a rate of 17.5 per cent, and Glenelg, with a rate of 19.9 per cent.

Regulations banning smoking in outdoor dining areas due to come into effect on August 1 ignited discussion in the south-west community.

Many people expressed their support for changes, which will affect a number of local businesses.

A poll set up by The Standard attracted close to 400 votes, and more than 60 per cent of respondents supported the change and 36 per cent did not.

The state government said the ban was designed to protect people from exposure to second-hand smoke, make smoking less acceptable in the community and support people who have or were trying to quit smoking.

Quit Victoria said people in regional and rural areas were more likely to smoke than those living in metropolitan areas.

Director Dr Sarah White said the reasons for the disparity were unclear.

“There are probably more opportunities for people in rural and regional areas to smoke, for example if they are working outdoors, compared to those working in the city,” Dr White said.

“In certain pockets of Victoria where smoking rates remain high, it could be that smoking has been part of the culture for a long time, making it more difficult for smokers to quit and more likely that teenagers will take up the habit.”

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