‘More targeted approached needed’

CAMPAIGNS to encourage pregnant women to give up smoking need to be localised in rural areas to have a greater impact, according to a Mount Isa health expert.

Pregnant women and Indigenous Australians are being targeted in a new anti-smoking campaign, Quit For You, Quit For Two, which will run across TV, print, radio and social media, highlighting the dangers of smoking while pregnant.

According to the latest Queensland government statistics, in 2009 almost one in five pregnant women smoked while pregnant and almost 53 per cent of Indigenous women smoked in the same year.

Queensland adults living in socioeconomic disadvantaged areas were 2.3 times more likely to smoke than those who were more well-off and rates of smoking among adults were up to 50% higher in rural and remote areas.

Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health director Professor Sabina Knight said there were higher rates of pregnant Indigenous and non-Indigenous smokers in rural areas due to the combination of poverty and geographic location.

"The public health legislation's such as banning smoking in restaurants and on public transport doesn't impact on people who live in rural areas," Professor Knight said.

"It doesn't have as much of an impact because it doesn't reach people. There's no public transport and no restaurants where people would be affected by the no-smoking ban in rural areas."

Professor Knight said the new government campaign would have an impact on the region if it were sustained, agile and able to evolve to capture the attention of those targeted.

"We need varied and sustained strategies that are localised which target particular groups of people," she said.

The government has vowed to bring national smoking rates down to ten per cent of the population by 2018.

Cigarettes will be sold in plain packaging from 1 December.

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