Tamworth has been revealed as one of the state’s heaviest smoking cities.
While it is not a title we can wear proudly, we do have to acknowledge it is a hard tide to turn.
However, it’s not through lack of trying.
It has almost been a year since Tamworth Regional Council started enforcing its smoke-free CBD initiative, which has been lauded and mooted as a model for other NSW councils to follow.
Our council says locals and visitors have been very obliging to butt-out in our main streets, with rangers still yet to hand out a fine for any smoking-bandit caught in Peel St.
Manilla and Barraba have smoke-free CBDs, while our western-neighbours Gunnedah have also considered phasing out smoke in their CBD.
While council and the Heart Foundation are in unison saying attitudes have shifted, statistics suggest old habits really are dying hard.
It bears repeating that people are addicted to cigarettes and – for a smoker – quitting can present a mountain of a battle, and sometimes willpower and shifting attitudes are just not enough to win the fight.
Breaking up may be hard to do when it comes to Tamworth smokers parting ways with their smokes, but council is still yet to hand down a fine to a CBD smoker – which shows we’re also leaders when it comes to being considerate.
Something that should also be applauded.
More than 21 per cent of residents in the Tamworth local government area smoke on a daily basis.
More than the state average and more than the Sydney average.
Nearly 30 per cent of residents in the West Tamworth area are smoking every day.
But, apparently, 100 per cent of CBD visitors are willing to butt-out for their non-smoking counterparts.
People are entitled to enjoy their fresh air when enjoying the outdoors and should be free from being subjected to secondhand-smoke.
Heart Foundation director of cardiovascular health Julie-Anne Mitchell said it has taken 50 years to turn the tide of smoking habits in Australia.
Tamworth could be seen to be behind-the-eight-ball with smoking trends, but local adaptation to non-smoking areas is showing the spark is there to continue lowering the statistics.