WHEN a Lake Illawarra police staff member, a mother, told Superintendent Wayne Starling she would continue smoking after a cancer scare, the station commander decided something had to be done to encourage staff to butt out.
As a result, Supt Starling partnered with Cancer Council NSW to establish the pilot Smoking Cessation Program, believed to be the first within NSW Police.
The commander said the program, which he hoped would be rolled out throughout the state, targeted the approximately 10per cent of the 300-member workforce who smoked.
Supt Starling said the conversation with the staff member who was planning to continue smoking after the health scare made him realise what an issue smoking was in the workplace.
‘‘Then there’s the personal impact – I’ve read one-third of employees that smoke will not live to see retirement,’’ he said.
‘‘Virtually everyone who replied (to emails about the program) told me a personal story, having lost relatives to cancer through smoking, and they still smoke.’’
Supt Starling said some officers smoked due to the job’s stresses but he had a responsibility to staff.
‘‘If a handful of people succeed, that’s a win,’’ he said.
The Cancer Council will host regular information sessions. It will provide patches, literature and other support.
Family and friends will be able to sponsor those attempting to quit. Funds raised will go to the Cancer Council.
Staff will also be encouraged to use websites like www.icanquit.com.au.
‘‘This is a fun way for staff to be involved, measure their success and share the journey with friends, family and co-workers,’’ Amanda Buikstra, Cancer Council’s community partnerships coordinator said.
‘‘We were keen to get on board to help police be healthier and happier. It’s looking after those who look after the community.
‘‘Police are role models and it’s good for them to reinforce the positive message of the ills of smoking.’’