- Two out of three smokers, or about 1.8 million Australians, will die because of their habit, the first large-scale Australian study on the link between smoking and mortality shows.
- Tasmanian growers are calling for stricter food labelling and imported product testing, in the wake of the Hepatitis A outbreak, allegedly linked to imported frozen berries.
- Three major Melbourne hospitals have no cash to draw on immediately and only 12 of Victoria’s public hospitals have enough cash to fund their operating activities for a week or less, according to a report by the auditor-general.
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 26th February 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster.
Two out of three smokers, or about 1.8 million Australians, will die because of their habit, the first large-scale Australian study on the link between smoking and mortality shows.
The study, published in the international journal BMC Medicine, found the smoking “epidemic” reduced a smoker’s life expectancy by 10 years on average.
Scientists from the Sax Institute in Sydney and the University of Melbourne followed 200,000 smokers over the age of 45.
Professor Emily Banks, the lead author of the study, said smoking was a “very, very powerful addiction” and she hoped the findings would give people the information they needed to really consider whether they should continue to smoke.
“Even though we’ve been incredibly successful at tobacco control in Australia we still have 2.7 million smokers,” Professor Banks said.
“And 1.8 million of those smokers will die from their habit if they don’t quit.”
The three main conditions that kill smokers are cardiovascular disease, cancer and chronic lung disease.
Professor Banks said those who smoked 10 cigarettes a day doubled their risk of premature death and that figure was much higher for heavy smokers.
“People who were smoking 25 or more cigarettes a day [had] up to a four to fivefold increase in their risk of dying [early],” she said.
The study found those who gave up the habit before the age of 45 could mostly avoid the major risks associated with smoking.
Tasmanian growers are calling for stricter food labelling and imported product testing, in the wake of the Hepatitis A outbreak, allegedly linked to imported frozen berries.
The Agriculture Department has put a holding order on frozen berries from the two Chinese factories allegedly linked to the outbreak until at least June.
This means that frozen berries from those factories can’t be sold in Australia, but the restrictions don’t apply to Chinese frozen berries from different factories, or to those from other countries.
But farmers and their representative bodies want permanent change.
North-west Tasmanian organic vegetable grower, Gloria Benson, said the Hepatitis A outbreak has brought attention to the fact that the Australian people have been deceived.
“It’s like a deceit, all of this food has been coming in without being checked, none of us are knowing that it is coming in from, places that may not have the food security that we have,” she said.
“It’s time really, that it has been exposed.”
Mr Benson said Australian growers aren’t on a level playing field with importers.
The Department of Agriculture is responsible for testing imported foods based on advice and risk assessments from Food Standards Australia and New Zealand.
Most fruits and vegetables, including the frozen berries from China, are in the surveillance category where five per cent are tested.
Three major Melbourne hospitals have no cash to draw on immediately and only 12 of Victoria’s public hospitals have enough cash to fund their operating activities for a week or less, according to a report by the auditor-general.
The report, tabled in the Parliament, found 32 hospitals were showing signs of financial stress.
It also said The Alfred, Royal Melbourne and Mercy hospitals had no cash to immediately draw upon.
“There are still concerns regarding the financial sustainability risks of hospitals, with 32 hospitals, including some major metropolitan hospitals, requiring a letter of support from the former Department of Health, in order to be able to report as a going concern,” the report said.
“Further, 12 public hospitals held cash at 30 June, 2014 that could only fund seven or less days of operating activity.”
The report said that was an improvement on the year before, when 23 public hospitals were in that position.
The auditor-general examined 87 public hospitals and 23 associated entities responsible for $12.6 billion in public health expenditure.
The president of Victorian branch of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) said hospitals were cutting it too fine with their finances.
Tony Bartone said the State Government needed to increase funding for public hospitals.
“A week of cash flow is certainly not enough, it’s cutting it way too fine,” he said.
“Management need to manage their resources much better, they need assurances of funding.”
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