Gippsland Region Public Health Unit,

Breathe Easy Gippsland

“Let’s talk about smoking vaping and e-cigarettes.”

That’s the message from the Gippsland Region Public Health Unit as it launches its ‘Breathe Easy Gippsland’ campaign.

“We want to understand what the people of Gippsland think about expanding smoke and vape free zones across our communities. We also want to know more about people’s own experiences, particularly when it comes to vaping” said Population Health Lead with the Gippsland Region Public Health Unit, Nilay Kocaali.

Gippsland has some of the highest smoking rates of all Victorian regions. This includes smoking among pregnant people which in some parts of Gippsland is three times higher than the State’s average.’

“We’ve known for over 50 years now that smoking, along with exposure to second hand smoke is detrimental to people’s health. It (smoking) is the leading preventable cause of cancer and contributes to heart and lung disease, yet rates remain higher than we’d like across Gippsland.”

“Added to that, vaping, or the use of e-cigarettes has emerged and is posing significant threats to public health. Vaping prevalence, particularly among young people is a huge concern and thanks to recent publications from the Australian National University, we know that young people who vape are three times more likely to turn to tobacco smoking. Even those who have never smoked before. Concerningly, for the first time in decades we are seeing a rise in smoking rates among people as young as 14 years old.’

Breathe Easy Gippsland is based on a similar campaign conducted by the City of Melbourne which since 2013, has seen the introduction of 13 smoke and vape free areas across the cities CBD.

Gippsland’s Breathe Easy campaign hopes to see similar outcomes, but first is focussed on engaging local communities through community pop-ups, a social media campaign and an online survey to gauge the community’s opinions and interest in increased action to reduce tobacco and e-cigarette related harm.

“It’s part awareness raising and part research with the goal being more smoke and vape free areas introduced across Gippsland,” said Nilay.

Businesses will be asked to support the campaign by displaying posters and sports clubs will be sent updated signage.

“Many venues have ‘no smoking’ signs, but few have signs that include reference to vaping. These updated signs highlight the issue of vaping and remind people that e-cigarettes are also harmful to people’s health.”

The research component will show what level of support there is from the community for the expansion of smoke and vape free zones. If the support is high, it is hoped that this will assist local governments to expand smoke and vape free areas in their community.

“Smoke and vape free zones are the only way to fully protect communities from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke. Additionally, they ‘de-normalise’ smoking and vaping, helping to reduce smoking and vaping uptake in children and young people and reinforce supportive environments which are conducive to people wanting to quit smoking and non-smokers.

If this flows through from the research and the awareness raising campaign, we’ll have a healthier Gippsland where we can all breathe a little easier,” said Nilay.

Have your say by completing the online survey at:

More information about Breathe Easy Gippsland can be found at and on the Breathe Easy Gippsland Facebook page.