Monday, 9th October, 2017

The Latrobe Valley will be the first in Australia to pioneer an innovative new way of supporting locals to quit smoking for good with the support of their GP and other health professionals.

Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing MP today launched the Smoke-free Latrobe Initiative, delivered as part of the Andrews Labor Government’s response to the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry.

The Gippsland Primary Health Network is leading the Australian-first smoking cessation program in partnership with Quit Victoria and the Department of Health and Human Services that will provide the Latrobe Valley residents with expert quitting advice and support when they visit their GP and other health professionals.

Specialist training has been developed for Latrobe Valley GPs, as well as practice nurses, pharmacists, dentists and oral health professionals.

Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable chronic disease and of preventable deaths. About 4,000 lives are lost each year in Victoria due to smoking, costing $2.4 billion in healthcare costs and lost productivity.

In the Latrobe Valley, 24 per cent of adults smoke daily or occasionally compared to 20 per cent across Gippsland. This is significantly higher than the 13 per cent of Victorian adults who are current smokers.

This pioneering program means more people in the Valley than ever will get the help they need to quit, and as a result, reducing rates of cancer and heart disease and saving lives.

The Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry identified priority areas to improve overall health and wellbeing in the Latrobe Valley, including supporting smoking cessation.

The Labor Government has provided more than $80 million to support the Latrobe Valley community and implement the recommendations of the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry report. This includes the $27 million Healthy and Strong Latrobe Initiative, from which the smoke-free program is funded.

And Monash University’s Hazelwood Long Term Health Study is already providing important insights into how best to improve the health and wellbeing of the Latrobe Valley communities.

We have also established the independent Latrobe Health Assembly and the Latrobe Health Advocate to put the health needs of the Latrobe Valley front and centre.

Supporting people to quit smoking is also a vital part of our Victorian Cancer Action Plan 2016-20 which has set an ambitious target of saving 10,000 lives from cancer in the next 10 years.

Quotes attributable to Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing:

“Trusted family GPs are well placed to make a real difference in fighting high rates of smoking in the Valley. This program gives them the skills and confidence they need to support their patients to quit.”

“More people smoke in Gippsland than any other region. Our pioneering smoking cessation program will significantly reduce harm caused by smoking in the Valley and save lives.”

“Working side-by-side with the community, we are designing and investing in better and tailored services that will improve health and wellbeing in the Valley.”