Neighbouring suburbs on the north coast of Tasmania have taken out the top spot, garnering the unwanted title of Australia’s worst localities when it comes to the number of smokers.
About 40 per cent of residents in Bridgewater and Gagebrook are smokers, according to data from health policy think tank Mitchell Institute at Victoria University.
This compares with the national average adult rate of 14 per cent smoking daily.
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“Smoking kills, and it looks like six times more people in Bridgewater/Gagebrook in greater Hobart are going to die from illness caused by smoking than in Kur-ing-Gai in inner Sydney,” health policy lead Ben Harris said on Friday.
Risdon Vale in outer Hobart is the second worst-performing suburb in the country at 34.4 per cent, making it equivalent to the national rate more than 30 years ago.
Mount Druitt in NSW is third at 31.2 per cent, and South Australia’s Elizabeth, Salisbury and Elizabeth North are just behind at 31.1 per cent.
Tamworth (30.3 per cent) in northeast NSW rounds out the top five that have smoking rates equivalent to national averages from the late 1970s and the 1980s.
Given the national average smoking rate has plummeted to 14 per cent across the country, experts say these areas are stuck in “a time warp”.
“Large parts of the state have smoking rates between 18 and 31 years behind the rest of the population,” Mr Harris said.
“It’s important that Quit campaigns and health professionals target their messaging to specific communities where smoking rates remain stubbornly high.”
On the other end of the spectrum, the northern Sydney suburbs of Gordon, Killara and Pymble have the lowest rate of smoking in the nation at 6.6 per cent.
The next-door suburbs of Lindfield and Roseville rank second best in the nation at 7.2 per cent, with nearby Epping, North Epping, Pennant Hills and Cheltenham third.
Australians with mental health conditions are more than twice as likely to be smokers as the general population, the institute reveals.
Mr Harris said where a person lived, their education and friends influenced smoking rates, and he urged governments to channel funding to the communities most in need of quitting.
“We know that dramatic declines in the national smoking rates over the decades have coincided with investment in the Quit campaign,” Mr Harris said. “There is an opportunity to use this new local information to target the Quit campaign and support health services.”
AUSTRALIA’S WORST-PERFORMING AREAS
1. Bridgewater/Gagebrook (TAS): 40 per cent, equivalent to national rate in 1979
2. Risdon Vale (TAS): 34.4 per cent, equivalent to national rate in 1986
3. Mt Druitt (NSW): 31.2 per cent, equivalent to national rate in 1988
4. Elizabeth/Salisbury/Elizabeth North (SA): 31.1 per cent, equivalent to national rate in 1988 5. Tamworth (NSW): 30.3 per cent, equivalent to national rate in 1989
AUSTRALIA’S BEST-PERFORMING AREAS
1. Gordon/Killara/Pymble (NSW): 6.6 per cent
2. Lindfield/Roseville (NSW): 7.2 per cent
3. Epping/North Epping/Pennant Hills/Cheltenham (NSW): 7.45 per cent
4. Burnside/Wattle Park (SA): 7.5 per cent
5. Cottesloe/Claremont (WA): 7.5 per cent