SMOKER numbers have increased across Australia since the beginning of the pandemic, with data released by SiSU Health revealing the number of smokers in Victoria is up 2.5 percent since pre-COVID times.
The arrival of COVID-19 saw increases across all age groups, with the rate amongst older Australians aged 65-75 almost doubling since before the pandemic.
Smoking levels are markedly higher in regional and remote areas in comparison to cities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smoking rates are particularly alarming, at three times the rate of non-indigenous Australians.
SiSU Health managing director, Dr Noel Duncan said, “The reasons for this upswing are complex, but stress and anxiety associated with lockdowns, often in combination with more frequent alcohol consumption at home, are likely to be contributing factors.”
The data, updated ahead of World Heart Day, also provides a snapshot of rising rates of stress, high blood pressure, weight gain, BMI and diabetes risk across the nation, with all these measures relevant to cardiovascular disease.
“Cardiovascular disease is the world’s number one killer, with heart disease and stroke claiming 18.6M lives each year. But many of the risk factors, such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity, are within our control to change.”
“It has never been easier to get a quick measure of your health and any warning signs. World Heart Day is a great occasion to reflect on the importance of health and, for many people, to begin a healthier life after all the damage that the COVID period has wrought.”