Still keen to puff away

DESPITE smoking rates decreasing significantly over the past decade, Liverpool still has more people lighting up than the rest of the state.

The most recent health data, released in 2013, shows that 22.3 per cent of people living in Liverpool are smokers, compared with the state average of 17.1 per cent.

Natasha McEwan, tobacco control program manager for the South Western Sydney Local Health District health promotion service said the rate of smoking in south western Sydney had declined by 8.1 per cent in recent years.

"The rate of smoking in south western Sydney in 2002 was 24.4 per cent," Mrs McEwan said.

"In 2012 it was 16.3 per cent; a significant reduction."

She said it was believed there were more people smoking in this region due to socio-economic factors.

"Smoking rates are high among people from low socio-economic groups, Aboriginal people, those who are unemployed, homeless, or imprisoned and those with a mental illness or drug and alcohol dependency.

"The significant decline in smoking prevalence in the general population over the past 40 years has been less evident among the most disadvantaged."

Mrs McEwan said it was ok for smokers to make several attempts to quit.

"Research shows that every time a person tries to quit, their chances of quitting for good increase," she said.

"People should remember what damage smoking is doing to their lives. Half of all long-term smokers will die from tobacco-related disease."

She said initial evidence showed plain packaging was influencing people's readiness to smoke in front of others, as well as the satisfaction felt when smoking a cigarette.

Quitline: 137 848.

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