World No Tobacco Day

May 30 2019

Smoking

Smoking is one of the world’s leading causes of chronic disease, death and ill-health. HMRI-affiliated researchers are working on an array of research projects aimed at stopping smoking – in a breadth of vulnerable populations.

Friday 31 May is World No Tobacco Day – a day to raise awareness on the harmful and deadly effects of tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure, and to discourage the use of tobacco in any form. Every day, Hunter researchers are working towards reducing tobacco consumption and prevent disease caused by smoking.

Hunter Cancer Research Alliance researchers are committed to developing and delivering strategies to help people quit smoking and make a difference to the quality and length of their life.

Professor Chris Paul wants to produce research that contributes to improving the current and future health of all members of our community. “Researching ways to improve smoking cessation is important to me because most smokers want to quit. I believe every smoker should be offered non-judgemental help to quit when they are ready for it,” says Professor Paul. The ultimate goal of her research is to see quicker and stronger responses from our society that will help us all to live healthier lives.

Associate Professor Flora Tzelepis and team are exploring the effectiveness of video support sessions for people in rural and remote areas to help people quit smoking. “People who live in regional and remote areas are more likely to smoke than those in metropolitan areas,” Associate Professor Tzelepis says. “It is important that appropriate smoking cessation services are available in regional and remote areas.”

The team is still recruiting volunteers – find out more here.

Professor Amanda Baker is a clinical psychologist who is researching the longevity gap between people with mental health and substance abuse problems, and the rest of the community. “The longevity gap is largely due to smoking-related diseases. Smoking hasn’t really received much attention at all among people with mental health or drug and alcohol problems,” Professor Baker says. “About two-thirds of people of people with severe mental health smoke cigarettes and around 90% of people with drug use disorders smoke compared about 12% of the general community. Addressing smoking is really important because I think we can make an enormous difference to people’s quality of life and the length of their life.”

Dr Kristen McCarter’s ultimate goal is to support patients with cancer to quit smoking. “I want to ensure that every smoker is offered help to quit smoking, which is why I’m passionate about working with those people who may need additional supports, such as those with comorbidities like severe mental illness or cancer”, says Dr McCarter. “Research gives me the opportunity to design and test the best ways that we can help patients to make healthy changes and support clinicians to deliver the best possible care”.

Professor John Wiggers believes the majority of today's health problems are able to be prevented by changing the behaviours of individuals and of organisations. “My research is focused on identifying ways of building the capacity of health care services to provide effective smoking cessation care by modifying their care, service delivery and organisational policies and practices,” says Professor Wiggers. “My focus is to then connect smokers to these health services”.       

Dr Michelle Bovill is a Wiradjuri woman, with a PhD in Aboriginal health. Michelle has been funded to explore non-pharmacological approaches to smoking cessation during pregnancy, in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and communities. “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women want to quit smoking during pregnancy and often make several quit attempts during the course of pregnancy,” Dr Bovill states.

“However, limited evidence in this space has been driven by the community interest and needs. My research aims to privilege the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to address smoking cessation during pregnancy and appropriate strategies to enhance the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their babies”.

Professor Billie Bonevski has dedicated her research career to ensuring that support is provided to help people quit smoking, and her programs have been implemented globally. Coming from a behavioural science background, Professor Bonevski has taken her psychology training and applied it to preventative care. As President of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, Oceania chapter, Professor Bonevski is part of a global team working to tackle tobacco use.

Dr Fiona Day is working with people with cancer to help them quit smoking. “For people diagnosed with cancer, quitting smoking can be as important as some of their cancer treatments. Our research is helping us understand how the health system can better help people diagnosed with cancer to quit smoking for good.”

Associate Professor Gillian Gould leads the SISTAQUIT program, which provides a culturally sensitive program for Aboriginal services, primary health networks and other health providers to use to help Indigenous women quit smoking in pregnancy. “We want to start the conversation about smoking as early as possible, and found that many GPs and obstetricians lack the confidence or skills to provide specialist knowledge,” Associate Professor Gould says.

HMRI-affiliated researchers are working hard to make every day no tobacco day.