Smoking tobacco is a major cause of ill health and disease in the Northern Territory (NT).
What happens when you quit
When you quit smoking, your body will go through the following process after:
- 8 hours - excess carbon monoxide is out of your blood
- 5 days - most nicotine is out of your body
- 1 week - your sense of taste and smell get better
- 4 weeks - your blood flow improves
- 3 months - your lungs work better
- 12 months - your risk of disease is halved
- 5 years - your risk of stroke is greatly reduced.
Find out more information on tobacco and your health.
If you are thinking about quitting smoking, you should make a plan and stick to it.
It can help to have someone else to quit with, or get help with quitting from your doctor or other organisations.
There are several ways you can quit smoking, including:
- going cold turkey - giving up suddenly
- gradual approach - cutting down the number of cigarettes you have each day until you no longer smoke
- medication and nicotine replacements - these can be taken to reduce withdrawal symptoms.
Cravings only last a few minutes and get less over time. When you have a craving it will pass.
When you have a craving you should try the 'four Ds':
- deep breathe
- drink water
- do something else.
When you quit smoking you may have some symptoms while you body begins to repair and return to normal.
These include all of the following:
- mood swings
- difficulty concentrating
- tingles in hands and feet
- anxiety and restlessness
- upset stomach
- feeling hungry.
It can take 10 to 30 days for these symptoms to disappear.
You should talk to your doctor or general practitioner (GP) to find out about getting help to quit smoking.
They can give you advice on nicotine replacement therapy and other medicine to help you quit.
Your doctor or GP can complete a Quitline referral form for a counsellor to call you at a convenient time.
Quitline is a free telephone counselling and support service.
You can call 13 78 48 (13 QUIT) Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 8pm, and Saturdays from 2pm to 5pm.
Outside these hours, you can leave a message and a counsellor will call you back.
You can also register for a call back or chat online at the Quitline website.
Quitline NT is also on Facebook.
What Quitline counsellors do
Quitline counsellors can:
- help you make a plan to quit or cut down smoking
- talk about the different ways to quit and help you to find a way that suits you
- send you information about quitting smoking
- give you follow-up phone calls to support you while you are quitting.
Other useful tools to help quit smoking
Get the following apps from the Australian Government's Department of Health:
Find out about the Quitskills training program on the Cancer Council website.
Where you can't smoke
Smoking includes using electronic cigarettes for vaping. Under NT law, you can't smoke in any of the following places:
- enclosed public places, including pubs, clubs, restaurants and casinos
- enclosed workplaces
- non-liquor licensed outdoor dining areas of cafes and restaurants
- non-smoking areas of outdoor dining areas at liquor licensed premises
- outdoor public events, and within 10m of these events, except where smoking areas are identified
- schools, childcare centres and other educational facilities and within 10m of the entry and boundary area of these facilities
- motor vehicles when carrying passengers under the age of 16
- public transport and associated areas.
Where you can smoke in the NT
You can smoke in all of the following places:
- most outdoor areas
- the designated smoking area of a liquor licensed premises outdoor dining area, including a courtyard, footpath or balcony area
- more than 2 metres away from a doorway and 3 metres from an air conditioning unit
- your own home if it is not being used for commercial childcare, accessed by the public or clients, and has no employees
- the designated smokers room on an oil rig.
You may also be able to smoke in your own private room in group or shared accommodation. You should check with the manager first.
If someone smokes where they can't
If you are in a non-smoking venue or area and you see someone smoking, you should point out to them the area is non-smoking.
You should tell the owner or manager of the business, who must take steps to ensure compliance. They can call the NT Police who can issue an on-the-spot fine.
If someone is smoking in a workplace, work health authorised officers can issue on-the-spot fines.
Children have less developed airways and breathe faster than adults which means they breathe in more harmful chemicals.
If children breathe in second-hand smoke, they are at risk of all of the following:
- sudden infant death syndrome
- childhood asthma and other chronic respiratory symptoms
- acute lower respiratory tract infections in infancy and early childhood
- childhood cancers
- complications if they need a general anaesthetic
- decreased lung function
- Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)
- reduced sense of smell
- long-term developmental effects
- dental problems.
Children and smoking in cars
Under the law, you must not smoke in a car with children under 16 years old.
You can receive a penalty or on-the-spot-fine from the NT Police if you break this law.
Smoking in a small space like a car increases the harmful effects of second-hand smoke, even with the window wound down.
The NT Tobacco Control Act 2002 was amended in 2019 to include electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), and their accessories, as regulated products.
Like traditional tobacco products, the sale of e-cigarettes requires a tobacco retail licence and the same restrictions that apply to the sale and consumption of tobacco apply to e-cigarettes.
Changes to nicotine e-cigarette laws
From 1 October 2021, new national laws regulating the sale and use of nicotine e-cigarettes will come into force.
Smoking is not permitted at public events or within community facilities in the NT under the Tobacco Control Act 2002.
These events and facilities must have smoke-free buffer areas.
Events that need buffer areas
Events and facilities that need smoke-free buffer areas include:
- all community events for the public
- bike racing facilities
- community markets
- horse racing and dog racing facilities
- motorcycle and car racing facilities
- playgroup facilities and playgrounds
- pop-up events
- school grounds
- showground facilities
- sports fields
- swimming pools.
If you organise an event or manage a facility
If you organise public events or manage a community facility, you must create a 10-metre smoke-free buffer area from all boundaries, entry and exit points.
These buffer areas must have signs to show that smoking is not permitted. Templates for signage are available from the tobacco compliance and liaison officer. Get the contact details below.
Fines for smoking in buffer areas
Authorised officers may issue fines to people smoking tobacco products or using e-cigarettes in smoke-free areas.
The penalty is a:
- minimum fine of 80% of a penalty unit if issued through an infringement notice or
- maximum fine of 20 penalty units if issued by the court.
Find out more about penalty units on the Department of Attorney-General and Justice website.
For more information, go to the Department of Health website.
Last updated: 19 May 2022
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