Oxygen smoker

Reporter: Lucy Polkinghorne


Frank Baker has been denied what every human being is rightfully entitled too oxygen the 67 year old battles with the chronic lung disease emphysema every breath is a struggle.

Frank can't go anywhere without his gofer, even to collect his mail. He relies on ventilin puffers and a nebuliser just to get him through the day but it's not enough. Frank says he needs home-based oxygen to help him breathe easy. It's given to many patients who have extremely low oxygen levels and according to his doctor frank fits the bill well almost.

The trouble is Frank is a smoker. And until he gives it up medical professionals are refusing to give him what he needs. "I'm a smoker, I've been a smoker all my life, why was the law set down, that a smoker cannot have oxygen"

Frank thinks it's discrimination. "some beurocrat sitting in his little office is come up, oh i reckon we'll give these people that smoke a bit of a kick in the pants if they get crook we aren't going to treat them"

"i think this gentleman or people similar to him should be offered more assistance with stopping smoking we know that his emphysema will stabilise should he cease smoking" Dr Peter Sharley from the australian medical association says the rule against giving smokers oxygen is enforced to protect them not punish or disadvantage them. "The guideline around smoking and home oxygen is black and white it's about patient safety and safety for all those people in the household and safety of the house"

While it can be a lifesaver oxygen in the presence of people igniting cigarettes can be a lethal combination. "We've seen in intense care people with burns to their face who have had home oxygen and have broken their arrangements and have had flames to their face" smoking is the main cause of the lung disease surely the best solution for frank would be to quit. Doctor Sharly says while smokers do place a heavy burden on the community they aren't being denied any medical treatment. But frank refuses to suck it up, "I don't think it's fair, i don't think it's fair, because other people they mighten smoke, but they have naked flames in their house"

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